Robert Blunk is a distinguished artist of note in the Midwest. His work has been collected by museums (e.g., Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas; Hale Library, Manhattan, Kansas; Schingoethe Center, Aurora, IL; and the Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, and the New England Foundation for the Arts in Boston, MA) public arts projects on behalf of municipalities as well as by private collectors.
Robert Blunk was born in 1923 in Salyards, Kansas. After serving in the Pacific with the Marine Corps in World War II, he returned home to Kansas and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Kansas City Institute of the Arts in 1950. He later earned a Masters of Fine Arts (sculpture) at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas, and worked toward his doctorate at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico. For over 40 years, he had a notable teaching career combined with an active career of creating public sculpture, designs and installations.
In addition to this impressive public profile, Blunk painted and made sculpture in his studio. As with any artist, his style evolved over the years. There are themes that resurface throughout his work – both in the paintings and the sculpture.
A consistent exploration of space and color is evidenced in both his two-dimensional and three-dimensional work. Blunk is drawn to seascapes and landscapes and permutations of the two, figurative and abstract. He also paints still lifes and interiors. There is an element of the spiritual that permeates some pieces. As an example, in one instance, a trip to Puerto Rico resulted in an assemblage with a heraldic angel. His interests - as far ranging as Egyptian art to the Wright Brothers - earn witty or overt reference in some pieces.
Of his many works, especially interesting is the series of carved, extruded clay sculptures that were undertaken as a result of a propitious encounter with one of his college students who worked as a supervisor at an industrial pipe factory. Blunk wanted to visit the place and, afterwards, anticipating a sabbatical from teaching the following year, he proposed a fellowship – a first of its kind - at the factory to work with the extruded clay. The result was a significant body of sculptures that are consistently compelling yet range in mood from whimsical to solemn. That whimsy is also evident in a series of metal welded ship sculptures that also incorporate found objects and extends to other, more abstract, found object pieces.
His current work of miniature, painted still lifes and interiors reflect his vibrant sense of color, energetic drawing style and unerring graphic sensibility. These small paintings represent some of the strongest oeuvre in a remarkable career.
Blunk admires the works of artists ranging from Alexander Calder to David Smith and George Nakashima, and from Paul Klee, Van Gogh and Marsden Hartley to outsider artists. Robert Blunk’s talents, tastes and interests are broad, but his vision is singularly his own.
Mr. Blunk continues to make art at his studio in Denver, Colorado