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Robbins, Daniel J.

    Full Name: Robbins, Daniel J.

    Other Names:

    • Jeremiah Drummer, pseudonym

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1932

    Date Died: 1995

    Place Born: Brooklyn, Cattaraugus, NY, USA

    Place Died: Lebanon, Grafton, NH, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Cubist


    Director of the Fogg Art Museum and Cubist scholar. Robbins received his A. B. at age 19 from the University of Chicago and his M. A. in art history from Yale University. He had applied to Yale initially to study painting, but switched to art history when he discovered the painting department was dominated by the minimalist painter Josef Albers (1888-1976). Robbins graduated from Yale in 1955 and began teaching at Indiana University (1955-1956). He pursued his Ph.D. at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, studying under Robert Goldwater, completing his course work for the degree in 1958 in the joint Certificate of Museology program under A. Hyatt Mayor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Robbins continued to paint, exhibiting under the pseudonym Jeremiah Drummer, and wrote art criticism for the Village Voice under the name of George Gregory Dobbs. He received a Fulbright grant to study at the University of Paris in 1958 and on his return joined the National Gallery of Art in Washgington, D. C., in 1959 as a research assistant to the Chief Curator. He also married Eugenia Scandrett that same year. In 1961 he moved to the Guggenheim Museum to be a curator and then, in 1965, director of the Art Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design. At RISD, Robbins made exhibiting and collecting contemporary art a priority, something which the Museum had not done for sixty years. He mounted the first exhibitions which were curated by Andy Warhol (“Raid the Icebox 1,” 1969). Robbins became the director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University in 1971. At Harvard, he continued to champion modern art, including leading the restoration of the Mark Rothko murals in the dining room of Harvard’s Holyoke Center. Robbin’s duties as a curator and director prevented him from completing a dissertation; he left Harvard in 1974 and completed his dissertation and received his degree from NYU in 1975. Thereafter he held a professorship at Dartmouth college, 1975-80, but spent much of his time as guest lecturer at a variety of institutions, Senior Fellow at the National Endowment for the Humanities (1976), Yale (1977), Williams College (1978-79), Hunter College (1984), the University of Iowa (1985), a visiting member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In 1980 he accepted a permanent position as the May I. C. Baker Professor of the Arts at Union College. He was directing a catalogue raisonné on Albert Gleizes when he was diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, a cancer of the lymphatic system. He died shortly before his sixty-third birthday. Robbins’ area of scholarship was on the theoretical and philosophical origins of Cubism, especially Albert Gleizes (1881-1953) and Henri Le Fauconnier (1881-1946).

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] The Formation and Maturity of Albert Gleizes: A Biographical and Critical Study, 1881 through 1920. New York University, 1975; Raid the icebox 1 with Andy Warhol: an exhibition selected from the vaults of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. Providence, R.I., 1969; Jacques Villon Cambridge, MA: Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1976; and Moser, Joann. Jean Metzinger in Retrospect. Iowa City: University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1985; Albert Gleizes, 1881-1953: a Retrospective Exhibition. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1964; Cézanne and Structure in Modern Painting. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1963; and Pierre Georgel, and Anne Varichon. Albert Gleizes: Catalogue Raisonné. 2 vols. Paris: Fondation Albert Gleizes, 1998; The Vermont State House: a History & Guide. Montpelier: Vermont Council on the Arts & Vermont State House Preservation Committee, 1980; and Metzinger, Fritz. Die Entstehung des Kubismus: eine Neubewertung. Frankfurt: R. G. Fischer, 1990; “An Abbreviated Historiography of Cubism.” Art Journal 47 (Winter 1988): 277-83.


    “Daniel J. Robbins.” Rhode Island School of Design Museum Notes 83 (1996): 2-3; [obituary:] Kimmelmann, Michael. “Daniel Robbins, 62; Was Art Historian And a Modernist.” The New York Times, January 18, 1995, p. D21.


    "Robbins, Daniel J.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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