Born in 1927 in Virginia, Robert Andrew Parker is the illustrator of over forty children’s books. His work has the 1970 Caldecott Honor for Pop Corn and Ma Goodness by Edna Mitchell Preston, the 1972 American Institute of Graphics Arts Book Show for Liam’s Catch by Dorothy Parker and a 1982 American Library Association Notable Book award for The Whistling Skeleton edited by John Bierhorst.
Robert Andrew Parker has been a force in contemporary American painting since the 1950s. His work can be found in the collections of many major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Morgan Library & Museum. Parker’s work has appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker.
In his watercolors Parker combines areas of pure color with design conceived in terms of silhouette and shape. He takes his subject matter mostly from the natural world—dogs, trees, mountains, people, birds—and condenses and simplifies imagery with a swift, expressionistic technique. During his career Parker has worked in such distinctive locales as Arles and Saint-Remy in France and the Himalayas, where a 1981 walking tour provided the subjects for a series on landscapes and fellow trekkers.
Though she wrote about Robert Andrew Parker closer to the beginning of his artistic career, the poet, Marianne Moore’s sentiments still ring true fifty-five years later.
Robert Andrew Parker is one of the most accurate and at the same time most unliteral of painters. He combines the mystical and the actual, working both in an abstract and a realistic way. One or two of his paintings—a kind of private calligraphy—little upward-tending lines of actual writing like a school of fish—approximate a signature or family cipher.
His subjects include animals, persons—individually and en masse; trees, isolated and thickset; architecture, ships, troop between meadows. His sleeping dog is the whole in essence simplicity that is not the product of a simple mind but of the single eye—of rapt, genuine, undeprecatory love for the subject.
He is unmistakenly American, reliable—in the sense pleasing to Henry James. That his likings and proficiencies should range wide and that he should have depth and stature unvitiated by egotism, seems remarkable. He is in a sense like Sir Thomas Browne, for whom small things could be great things—someone exceptional—vir amplissimus [the most honorable man].
-Marianne Moore, Poets on Painters