Edition of 117
46 x 32 inches
The image comes from the gouache of the same name created in 2008. The image depicts the neon marquee of the Empire Theatre, a cinema in Montgomery, Alabama. The theatre is the famous site where Rosa Parks started the Civil Rights Movement.
"About 14 years ago, I had a show at the Montgomery Museum of Art in Alabama. After the opening, the director took me aside and said, “You really ought to see this theater downtown.” The director’s assistant drove me downtown to the Empire, which was built in 1914. It was closed, but still standing… I learned that the bus Rosa Parks was on was actually stopped in front of this theater when the police were called to arrest her in 1955. After I had seen and photographed it, the theater was torn down. The Rosa Parks Library and Museum now stands on the site.” - Robert Cottingham, November 2010
Forum Gallery curated an exhibition of nine paintings and drawings from 2008-2010, depicting the theater’s marquee in oil, watercolor, gouache and graphite.
"Robert Cottingham is known for imagery that celebrates the history of communications in America, specifically signage on urban storefronts, iconic communication devices such as vintage typewriters and cameras, and signs on railroad cars. The Empire series is an exploration of urban history, and the exhibition is an examination of the Artist’s consistent process. In 2008, Cottingham was asked by Lincoln Center to create an image for the anniversary of their Film Festival. Looking for a topic that would inspire him, Cottingham found the photos of the Empire Theater he had taken 12 years before. The subject of the search, the history of the place, the meaning of the word and the look of the theater came together for him." - Forum Gallery
Robert Cottingham was born in Brooklyn, NY and studied at the Pratt Institute. His works can be found in the collections of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; Sentra Museum, Berardo Collection, Lisbon, Portugal, and Boymans-von Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands, among others.