Overview: In 1945, Robert De Niro, Sr.’s work was included in the Autumn Salon at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery along with that of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The next year, he had his first solo exhibition at Guggenheim’s gallery, an extremely prestigious honor for the young figurative painter. But while De Niro continued to show at the highly regarded Charles Egan Gallery throughout the 1950s, his career began to slip out of the critical spotlight, and he struggled for recognition in subsequent decades.
As part of his mission to honor and preserve his father’s legacy, actor Robert De Niro, Jr. reads from De Niro, Sr.’s letters and journals, providing his own recollections of the artist’s personal and professional struggles. The film weaves together archival family footage and interviews with the artist himself, as well as with art experts, artists who worked alongside him and, most affectingly, his son. At the heart of the film is Robert De Niro, Sr.’s beautiful work, which will be exhibited in conjunction with the documentary’s debut at New York City’s DC Moore Gallery from June 6-July 11. These vibrant paintings are a reminder that art movements can be so powerful that they can obscure the work of talented artists who don’t fit a particular genre.
An official selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, the film was directed by Perri Peltz (HBO’s THE EDUCATION OF DEE DEE RICKS) and Geeta Gandbhir (Emmy-winning editor of HBO’s IF GOD IS WILLING AND DA CREEK DON’T RISE.
Expectations: In all honestly this is what I want out of this documentary. I want an understanding of who this man was as an artist. I want to know his style, his medium, his muse and his method as an artist foremost. What gives someone their artistic inspiration can often be interesting. Secondly, what of Mr. De Niro Sr.’s life? An understanding of who he was could offer clarity on how it shaped his artistic vision. Of least importance is really the relationship with his son. It wouldn’t matter whether he was the father of an actor or a milkman. That is not a bad thing for me to say because from all I have read and heard about De Niro Jr., the actor, I noted that he is a rather private man and not open to talk about himself. By the tone of the Press Release and the Trailer, which I will include below, I can say I should see those expectations met. It is not about a son’s relationship with his father, but about the father himself and his contribution to society.
The piece moves well and equally balances all aspects of the artist’s life. It explains his place in the art scene of the time very well and gives us a direct line into his life and thoughts via actual journal entries. It even gives us Robert De Niro Jr. opening up in quite a heartfelt way. It is a well done, well paced documentary.
In Conclusion: I realize this documentary may not be quite to everyone’s taste and some may watch it only because Robert De Niro, Jr. is a favorite actor of theirs. Some may not even care for the art De Niro Sr. created. But, a nice tribute was paid here by a son for a father. Even though you may not be famous or rich enough to do something as artistic and elaborate as this I hope you all can give your father his due in some way this Father’s Day.
The HBO Documentary Films presentation REMEMBERING THE ARTIST ROBERT DE NIRO, SR. can still be seen on HBOGo or on HBO at the following times: 06.15 at 2:00pm; 06.18 at 1:15pm; 06.21 at 10:15am and 06.25 at 10:45am.