Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In Memoriam Richard Pionk 1936-2007

Since my previous post on Elsie Popkin, I realised that I had not yet posted on Richard Pionk, whose serene classical style has a timeless quality, its roots in a tradition going back to Chardin, Vollon, and Fantin-Latour - artists whose works Pionk spent hours on end studying, in museums from Brooklyn to Paris.

Richard C. Pionk was born in Moose Lake, Minnesota in 1936. He received his formal training at the Art Student’s League in New York City, where he became Instructor of Painting. The list of his students is a veritable “who’s who” of American art. He was the longest running President of The Salmagundi Club and he also served on the boards of many art organizations. Before moving to New York, he studied in a Franciscan monastery in St. Joseph, Missouri and also served in the United States Navy.
Richard Pionk was well known for his oils, pastels, and watercolors. He won more than 100 awards from the Pastel Society of America, Audubon Artists, Hudson Valley Art Association, Allied Artists, Knickerbocker Artists, National Arts Club, Salmagundi Club, Wall Street Art Association, American Artists Professional League, and the Ridgewood, New Jersey Art Institute.
In 1984, he was named Master Pastellist by the Pastel Society of America for Exceptional Merit and, in 1997, was inducted into the Pastel Hall of Fame.

Pionk said of his painting:
"I prefer to work exclusively in my studio where I am able to set up the subject and work directly from life, which gives me maximum control of the choice of objects, placement and lighting. I choose my studio because of the north window, which provides a source of unchangeable light. The lower part of the window is blocked out so as to give the light a downward direction as if it were coming from a skylight. In chiaroscuro painting, the eye follows the light, going from one section to another, and the shadows structure the painting. I usually let the light come in from the left to the focal point. The background is dark and the light on objects gradually gets brighter as it moves to the right."

Richard Pionk's memorial tribute website is found at www.richardpionk.org


  1. One of my favorite pastelists - thank you for writing of Richard.

  2. I had thought to write of him before, Susan, but most of the websites on the blog are of living artists. However, looking at Carole's book again after a long hiatus reminded me of how much he influenced me - he was the first artist whose work I tried to copy, to learn from. And you can see his influence on others - Claudia Seymour comes to mind straight away, but there are so many others.......