Robert Thiele

Born 1941 Milwaukee, WI

Robert Thiele, portrait
Robert Thiele, TO 1005, 2017, Wood and acrylic, 14.5x6.5x4.25 inches

In paintings that he calls wall constructions, Robert Thiele embeds found objects from the environment.

Selected Works

These are a selected group of works and installation photographs. For a complete list of available works please contact us.

Robert Thiele, CVIII, 2013
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Robert Thiele

Robert Thiele is an influential visual artist as well as an educator and curator. Thiele’s artistic career engages with the New York School, Surrealism, Minimalism and Conceptualism. Working with simple geometric and organic shapes and forms, Thiele developed a lifelong exploration of the art of containment and covering. His sculptural paintings variously contain, reveal and conceal, recede and project. These objects house apertures that frequently blur whatever is veiled behind them, whether with the size and shape of the opening, with obscuring fabric or acrylic. The apertures hint at an image, often an abstract(ed) form, but sometimes there is a stronger suggestion of a woman or an eye. His nuanced work employs spatial play within the individual artwork and in groupings of artworks, affording a succession of curators and collaborators endless edits within his open-ended system.


Thiele was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1941 and attended Kent State University in Ohio for his Bachelors in Fine Art, finishing in 1964. Though his father was an engineer and architect, it had not occurred to him at that time that he could study art full-time, so at first he focussed on psychology. A friend convinced him to take a stone carving class, and he took to it immediately. One of the reasons he was so receptive to artmaking were the family stories of his grandfather Max Krause, who had taught stone carving at the Bauhaus in the 1920s. From the beginning, Thiele’s paintings were sculptural and his sculptures were painterly. In 1964, he was a free agent for the Dallas Cowboys. Early in his training, he received his first draft notice, so he returned to Kent State to work on his Masters in Fine Art. Upon graduation in 1966, he was recruited to join the art faculty at the fledgling Dade Junior College. After teaching there for only a year, he was again drafted into the Army. He counted himself lucky to be stationed in Schofield Barracks on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’i until September 1969. 

After his service, he taught at Miami Dade College for more than thirty years alongside Robert Huff, Duane Hanson, Marcia Murray and Salvatore La Rosa, among many others. He taught three dimensional design classes, but he specialized in and especially enjoyed Art Appreciation classes. The lecture format meant the teaching mode was more performative, and he was more effective at reaching students, in particular the ones who were not art majors. One of his many friendships with colleagues is memorialized in Hanson’s seminal sculpture Football Player (1981), in the Lowe Art Museum Collection. Thiele was the model. He also had a storied run directing the college’s gallery, where he organized exhibitions by artists such as Malcolm Morley, Les Levine, Vito Acconci, Purvis Young, and Peter Saul. Among the works he acquired for the college’s collection were a gray felt suit by Joseph Beuys and a soft drum set by Claes Oldenburg. His students count him as a leader, influencer, and generous mentor. 

Thiele resumed making art as soon as he returned from Hawai’i in 1969. His first shows were the Hortt Memorial Exhibition at NSU Art Museum, Ft. Lauderdale in 1970 and 33 Miami Artists at Miami Art Center, Kendall in 1973. These exhibitions were the only two options for showing contemporary art at institutions in South Florida at the time, and the reviews were closely followed throughout the city. In this period Thiele was making black and white shaped canvases, which were well-received, but he changed direction anyway, beginning a more expansive and intuitive abstraction that would define the rest of his career. It was this new work that he showed with O.K. Harris Gallery in New York, NY in 1974 and 1978 and the Whitney Biennial 1975: Contemporary American Art

The 1980s saw an acceleration in Thiele’s regional and national exposure, with inclusion in USA Sculpture at Maryland Institute of Contemporary Art (1980), Florida Visual Artists Exhibition at Florida State University (1983), 41st Biennial of Contemporary American Painting at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, DC (1988), along with shows at many South Florida institutions. In 1989, after winning the Florida Visual Artist Prize, which he received three times, the exhibition for the award winners traveled to Center for Contemporary Art in North Miami, Capitol Gallery in Tallahassee, Norton Gallery in Palm Beach, and the Brevard Art Center and Museum in Melbourne. He had a solo show at Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston Salem in 1988. From 1989 to 1992, the Made in Florida exhibition, initiated by USF Art Museum in Tampa, had an international tour to ten more institutions in the United States, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain. At one of the stops, the Center for Fine Arts in Miami, he would later have a solo exhibition at that institution under a new name, Miami Art Museum, now called Perez Art Museum Miami, in 2001. There, he was also in a seminal group exhibition, called Miami Currents, 2002-3. 

Thiele’s work is represented widely in Florida’s museum collections. He has had solo exhibitions at Museum of Art Deland (2019), MDC Museum of Art and Design (2015), and Perez Art Museum Miami (2001). A 30-year survey show was at Emerson Dorsch in 2009. He received an Oolite Arts Creator Award in 2022. 



Robert Thiele: And Elsewhere, Emerson Dorsch, Miami, FL

Robert Thiele: 80s to Now, Emerson Dorsch, Miami, FL

Robert Thiele, Museum of Art, DeLand, FL

Robert Thiele 3 Four 8, MDC Museum Art + Design, Miami, FL

Robert Thiele, Tammen and Partner Galerie, Berlin, Germany

Robert Thiele: 8-Four-9, Dorsch Gallery, Miami, FL

30, Dorsch Gallery, Miami, FL (catalogue)

Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL (catalogue)

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Hollywood Art and Culture Center, Hollywood, Florida, (catalogue)

O. K. Harris Gallery, New York, New York


Fragment, Emerson Dorsch Gallery, Miami, FL

Paradise Lost: Alchemy of Necessity, Cindy Rucker Gallery, New York, NY

Sunrise, Sunset, Emerson Dorsch Gallery, Miami, FL

Silent Poems, 3 person exhibition, Galerie Skulpturensfeld, Liebertingen and Galerie Arthea, Mannheim, Germany
Florida Masters, Museum of Art Deland, Deland, FL
smoke signals; portals y paisajes, Under the Bridge, North Miami, FL
smoke signals: istwa, paisajes and allegories, ArtCenter South Florida, Miami Beach, FL

Abstraction, Jason McCoy Gallery, NY, NY

Miami Contemporary Artists, Creating A Scene, Freedom Tower, Miami, FL

Big Juicy Paintings, Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL

Galerie Tammen and Busch, Berlin, Germany

Miami Currents, Miami Art Museum, Miami, Florida
Florida Visual Art Fellowships 25th Anniversary Exhibition (catalogue), traveled to
– Lowe Art Museum, Miami, FL
– Gulf Coast Museum of Art, Largo, FL
– Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, FL
– Terrace Gallery, Orlando, FL
– Vero Beach Museum of Art, Vero Beach, FL
– The Art Gallery at Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft Myers, FL
– Cummer Museum of Art, Jacksonville, FL

Globe>Miami<Island, Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL (catalogue)


Sarasota Biennial, Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL
Family Size, Art Center/South Florida, Miami Beach, FL (catalogue)

Abstraction, Perez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL (catalogue)

Wallworks, Sculpture Center, NY, NY

Made in Florida, traveled to
– USF Art Museum, Tampa, FL
– Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, FL
– Center for the Fine Arts (now PAMM), Miami, FL
– Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, FL
– Brevard Art Center and Museum, Melbourne, FL
– Pensacola Art Museum, Pensacola, FL
– Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL
– Musee Cantini, Marseille, France
– Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland
– Provincaal Museum, Hasselt, Belgium
– Centre d’Art en Sante Monica, Barcelona, Spain (catalogue)

South Florida Invitational, NSU Art Museum, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Art Park at FIU, Frost Art Museum, Florida International University, Miami, FL

Fellowships: Florida’s Finest, traveled to
– Center for Contemporary Art (now MOCA), North Miami, FL
– Capitol Gallery, Tallahassee, FL
– Norton Gallery, Palm Beach, FL
– Brevard Art Center and Museum, Melbourne, FL

41st Biennial of Contemporary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of Art, DC

Five Sculptors, NSU Art Museum, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
In Print Miami, Interamerican Art Gallery, Miami, FL (catalogue)

Four in Florida, North Miami Museum, Miami, FL

USA Sculpture, Maryland Art Institute, Baltimore, Maryland (catalogue)

O. K. Harris Gallery, New York, New York
Sculpture Park Miami, Miami, FL

Sculptors of Florida, Hollywood Art and Culture Center, Hollywood, FL

Whitney Biennial 1975: Contemporary American Art, curated by John Hanhardt, Barbara Haskell, James Monte, Elke Solomon, and Marcia Tucker.


New Talent, O.K. Harris Gallery, NY, NY
Continuum Gallery, Miami, Florida 1973 (Ad in Avalanche Magazine, Issue 8, Summer/ Fall 1973)
33 Miami Artists, Miami Art Center, Miami, FL (catalogue)

Hortt Memorial Exhibition, NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, FL


2022 Oolite Arts Creator Award
2007 Individual Artist Fellowship, State of Florida
1988-89 Individual Artist Fellowship, State of Florida
1981-82 Individual Artist Fellowship, State of Florida


MFA, Painting, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

BFA, Sculpture, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio



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For a complete list of related materials please contact us.

February 15 - April 13, 2019

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