Robbie Conal

Upton Sinclair Awards

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Robbie Conal grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan. Raised by union organizers who considered the major art museums to be day care centers for him.

He attended High School of Music and Art, and received his BFA at San Francisco State University (1969), and his Master of Fine Arts at Stanford University (1978).

In 1986, angered by the Reagan Administration’s rabid abuse of political power in the name of representative democracy, he began making satirical oil portraits of politicians and bureaucrats, turning them into street posters. He developed an irregular guerrilla army of volunteers who helped him poster the streets of major cities around the country. Over the past 29 years, Robbie has made more than 100 street posters satirizing politicians of all stripes, televangelists, the news and entertainment media, and global capitalists. With his unique brand of humor and insight, he has also taken on subjects like censorship, war, social injustice, and environmental issues. Not to be understood too quickly, Conal recently began trying his wit—with great success—on celebratory portraits of personal heroes Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Washington Post has called Robbie America’s foremost street artist.” His work has been featured on “CBS This Morning,” “Charlie Rose,” and in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, Vanity Fair and People magazine. He has also appeared online numerous times in The Huffington Post, TYT Network’s “The Point” and on MOCAtv’s arts channel. He’s received a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Grant, a Getty Individual Artist Grant and a Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Individual Artist's Grant (COLA).

Conal’s work has been collected by—and featured in exhibitions at—The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the San Jose Museum of Art. He has also been a cartoon character on “The Simpsons.” Recently, his art was featured in the 2015 Venice Biennale and an international street art exhibit in Vienna, Austria. Robbie has authored three books: “Art Attack: The Midnight Politics of a Guerrilla Poster Artist,” 1992 (HarperCollins); “Artburn,” 2003 (Akashic Books); and “Not Your Typical Political Animal,” with his wife Deborah Ross, 2009 (Art Attack Press). He currently resides in Los Osos, California with Deborah and two kittens, Ella and Louie.

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