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Photo of Robert Lostutter

Robert Lostutter

Born: 1939 (Emporia, KS, United States)

Although Robert Lostutter did not participate in group exhibitions at the Hyde Park Art Center, he was a member of what is now known as the Chicago Imagist circle. Lostutter attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and shared his contemporaries’ interest in figurative imagery based in popular culture and fantasy. He was greatly influenced by the instructor John Rogers Cox, who stressed traditional drawing and painting techniques. While today Lostutter is renowned for his meticulous watercolor process, early in his career he primarily used the medium to create preliminary studies for larger oil paintings. By the 1970s, he saw the potential in refining his watercolor method and it soon became his preferred medium. Lostutter saves all preparatory drawings and color charts and—wishing to expose the seams of his process and attribute value to each additive step—included several examples of each in a 2006 retrospective exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Like Ed Paschke, Lostutter became critically acclaimed for his composite figures. But where Paschke focused on distorted or mixed-and-matched figures from the mass media, Lostutter blurred the distinction between human, plant, and animal. Returning from a trip to Mexico in the 1970s, Lostutter became increasingly mesmerized by the otherworldly beauty of the tropical birds he had encountered in his travels. Subsequently, he began to make drawings and paintings of bird-men transfigured by multicolored and richly textured feathers. His gaze soon expanded to the muted tones of female birds, where he saw a subtle beauty that contrasted with the exuberance of male plumage. In the exotic world of Lostutter’s hybrid individuals, human faces are masked with feathers and sometimes complemented by leaves growing from their bodies.

Lostutter’s paintings envision a complete integration of man and nature in paradise. The way in which his figures peer out of the frame suggests the opening of communicative channels between their world and ours; sometimes they appear to be preening, other times they seem to appeal for their own conservation. The artist’s bird-humans echo Max Ernst’s surrealist fascination with the same hybrid creatures and John James Audubon’s extensive catalog, Birds of America. His interests are not limited to birds; in recent years he has also become fascinated by women wearing complicated costumes, viewed from distorting vantages. He also continues to be absorbed by Eden and the concept of paradise.

Artworks

The Birds of Heaven 14, Red-fronted Conure. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1974. Medium: color lithograph on paper.

The Birds of Heaven 14, Red-fronted Conure

1974

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Hummingbirds in the Late Afternoon. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1984. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Hummingbirds in the Late Afternoon

1984

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The Birds of Heaven: Sarus Crane. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1976. Medium: watercolor on paper.

The Birds of Heaven: Sarus Crane

1976

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In the Paradise It Is Night. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1979. Medium: watercolor on paper.

In the Paradise It Is Night

1979

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Gold-Fronted Woodpecker. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1981. Medium: graphite on canvas.

Gold-Fronted Woodpecker

1981

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Weeping, for the Order. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1981. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Weeping, for the Order

1981

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African Paradise Flycatcher. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1981. Medium: watercolor on paper.

African Paradise Flycatcher

1981

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Green Backed Fire-Crown and Fork-Tailed Woodnymph. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1983. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Green Backed Fire-Crown and Fork-Tailed Woodnymph

1983

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Studies for King Bird of Paradise. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: c. 1983. Medium: watercolor and graphite on paper and mylar.

Studies for King Bird of Paradise

c. 1983

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Three studies and poem for Trader of Green. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: c. 1998. Medium: graphite, watercolor, and ink on paper.

Three studies and poem for Trader of Green

c. 1998

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A Sign of My Time: Miltonia Species. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1975. Medium: color lithograph on paper.

A Sign of My Time: Miltonia Species

1975

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Gold-Fronted Woodpecker, First Study. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1981. Medium: pencil on paper.

Gold-Fronted Woodpecker, First Study

1981

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First Drawing for Spangled Coquette. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1995. Medium: graphite on paper.

First Drawing for Spangled Coquette

1995

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Four preparatory drawings and six palettes (Studies for Rainforest). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: c. 1991. Medium: watercolor and graphite on paper.

Four preparatory drawings and six palettes (Studies for Rainforest)

c. 1991

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Untitled (Study for Rainforest). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1991. Medium: graphite on paper.

Untitled (Study for Rainforest)

1991

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Untitled (Study for Rainforest). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1991. Medium: watercolor pencil on paper.

Untitled (Study for Rainforest)

1991

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Toucan (preparatory drawing and tracing). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: c. 1975. Medium: watercolor and graphite on paper.

Toucan (preparatory drawing and tracing)

c. 1975

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Untitled. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: December 1971. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Untitled

December 1971

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Untitled. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: September 1972. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Untitled

September 1972

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About the Sun Going Down–Mexico. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1973. Medium: watercolor on paper.

About the Sun Going Down–Mexico

1973

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Preparatory drawing and two palettes (Study for Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1986-1990. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Preparatory drawing and two palettes (Study for Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan)

1986-1990

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Preparatory drawing and two palettes (Study for Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1986-1990. Medium: watercolor.

Preparatory drawing and two palettes (Study for Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan)

1986-1990

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Preparatory drawing and two palettes (Study for Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1986-1990. Medium: watercolor.

Preparatory drawing and two palettes (Study for Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan)

1986-1990

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Three preparatory drawings (Study for Parrot Watching the Sun Go Down). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1986. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Three preparatory drawings (Study for Parrot Watching the Sun Go Down)

1986

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Three preparatory drawings (Study for Parrot Watching the Sun Go Down). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1986. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Three preparatory drawings (Study for Parrot Watching the Sun Go Down)

1986

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Three preparatory drawings (Study for Parrot Watching the Sun Go Down). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1986. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Three preparatory drawings (Study for Parrot Watching the Sun Go Down)

1986

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Ross’s Turaco Looking Back. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1988. Medium: color etching on paper.

Ross’s Turaco Looking Back

1988

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Parrot Watching the Sun Go Down. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1986. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Parrot Watching the Sun Go Down

1986

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Dutch Expression (study and palette). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1975. Medium: watercolor.

Dutch Expression (study and palette)

1975

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Two Hummingbirds (Study for Scintillant Hummingbird and Gorgeted Woodstar). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1982. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Two Hummingbirds (Study for Scintillant Hummingbird and Gorgeted Woodstar)

1982

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Scintillant Hummingbird and Gorgeted Woodstar. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1982. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Scintillant Hummingbird and Gorgeted Woodstar

1982

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Garnet-Throated Hummingbird and Purple Carib. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1984. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Garnet-Throated Hummingbird and Purple Carib

1984

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Cinnamon Hummingbird and Allied Emerald. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1984. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Cinnamon Hummingbird and Allied Emerald

1984

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Hummingbirds – Gould’s Jewelfront and Blue Throated Hummingbird. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1988. Medium: oil on canvas.

Hummingbirds – Gould’s Jewelfront and Blue Throated Hummingbird

1988

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The Man Who Remembers What Birds Once Looked Like. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1973. Medium: oil on canvas.

The Man Who Remembers What Birds Once Looked Like

1973

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Untitled (Study for Fish). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1972. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Untitled (Study for Fish)

1972

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In the Forest It Is Night. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1980. Medium: graphite on paper.

In the Forest It Is Night

1980

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Morning for the Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1989. Medium: watercolor and graphite on paper.

Morning for the Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan

1989

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Orchid and Hummingbird. Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1978. Medium: watercolor on paper.

Orchid and Hummingbird

1978

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Untitled (head of man and woman). Artist: Robert Lostutter. Date: 1996. Medium: graphite on paper.

Untitled (head of man and woman)

1996

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