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Robert Sudlow

Born: February 25, 1920, Holton, Kansas; Died: March 25, 2010, Lawrence, Kansas.

Robert N. Sudlow was born February 25, 1920, in Holton, Kansas, to Fred and Adria Newton Sudlow. Growing up as a child in rural Kansas, he fell in love with the picturesque beauty of the rolling plains. He was inspired to capture the essence of Midwestern nature apparent.

I need to mediate upon the landscape . . . Painting for me is a sort of Communion. I paint in the midst of the landscape . . . knowing that eyes are not enough. I wish for total immersion . . . in short, to paint is to participate, to extend one's senses, to work in sympathy with an utterly mysterious cosmos.

Robert Sudlow, in Kansas Geology as Viewed by the Artists, by Dan Merriam, 1987

Sudlow enrolled at the University of Kansas to study art and painting under Albert Bloch.

In 1942 Sudlow received his a bachelor's degree and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served as a pilot. There he earned the rank of lieutenant senior grade and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his participation as a rescue pilot during World War II. He continued to paint numerous watercolors of swamps, beaches, airfields, and romantic landscapes.

After the war he spent a year at the art academies in Paris. In the United States he enrolled at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and studied under the direction of Richard Diebenkorn. In 1956 Sudlow he received his master's degree.

Sudlow was appointed associate professor at the University of Kansas in 1962. In order to expand his artistic experience and expertise on global styles, he visited countries like Greece, Belgium, Germany, Spain, England, and Ireland during his sabbaticals. In 1971 KU granted him a full professorship, and he continued his career until his retirement in 1987.

His career continued for another 20 years, and he received numerous awards. He was named the first Kansas Governor's Artist.  He was named the Native Sons and Daughters' Kansan of the Year in 1996.  His work can still be seen at museums across the nation.

Sudlow's striking paintings range in mediums from oil paints on canvas and paper to watercolors and lithographs. Oils are the Sudlow's predominant medium. He found inspirations in landscapes in Douglas, Chase, and Wabaunsee Counties. Several of his landscapes depict the Osage Cuesta and Flint Hills characteristics of Kansas.

Sudlow died Thursday, March 25, 2010, at his home in Lawrence.

Entry: Robert Sudlow

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2013

Date Modified: September 2015

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.