Robert Rector

(b. 1946) Artist

Painter and printmaker Robert Rector’s major influences are minimalism and expressionism and the tension between the two. His reconciliation of these approaches has produced complex abstractions concerned with the balance between intuition and intellect. Rector was born in Pascagoula and raised in Ocean Springs. He earned his bachelor of fine arts and master of fine arts degrees from Louisiana State University and has lived and worked in Baton Rouge for most of his career. Instead of a focus on literal representation, Rector’s color fields, shapes, and textures interact with each other and with the associated shapes of the canvas, frame, and even studio wall angles. Though his work is devoid of narrative intent, the artist says that “as a southerner, the influence of nature is obviously important.”

In the tradition of abstract expressionism, Rector’s paintings are exquisite statements of color, surface, and gestural form. This dynamic has produced canvases of great surface beauty, such as the painting Untitled, from the Axis series, which was included in the 2007 Mississippi Story exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art and is part of the museum’s permanent collection. Given its carefully considered combination of geometric structure and spontaneity in paint, Untitled is a fine example of Rector’s approach. When painting, Rector applies and scrapes layers of color to achieve his textures. Experimenting with impulsive elements and accidents makes his canvases bold exercises in intuitive painting and balances his carefully crafted compositional work. According to Rector, his paintings have “always been about finding a balance, whether it was a balance of spontaneity and order, a balance of philosophy between minimalism and expressionism and balance of color confrontation.”

Rector’s paintings are held in the corporate collections of Apple, IBM, and Saks Fifth Avenue, among many others, and by the Old State Capitol Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the University of Texas; Louisiana State University; and the State of Louisiana.

Further Reading

  • Patti Carr Black, Art in Mississippi, 1720–1980 (1998)
  • Patti Carr Black, The Mississippi Story (2007)
  • Robert Rector website,

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Robert Rector
  • Coverage b. 1946
  • Author
  • Website Name Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date July 6, 2020
  • Publisher Center for Study of Southern Culture
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 15, 2018