Robert Baras was born in New York City in 1930 to immigrant parents from Romania. He was raised in the Bronx where he attended New York City Public Schools and City College. Baras was described by friends and family as a “dreamer” not a businessman. When Bob’s older brother was killed in World War II, he felt obliged to enter the family’s textile business. However, Bob the Dreamer’s heart was in his desire to paint. Baras’ innate feelings for color, texture and design made the business a large success. In 1974 the family sold the business and Baras was finally free to follow a life immersed in the making of Art. In 1979 he enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New York City where he received a BFA with honors and began his passion for painting. SVA at that time was a school dedicated to employing only working and showing artists to teach there. Baras was influenced by his instructors as well as Johns, Motherwell, Hartley and De Kooning.
Baras had already settled on the importance of color as primary in the pursuit of expression. Baras’ first productions were based on color field painting and were influenced by the critic Clement Greenberg and artists like Noland, Frankenthaler and Lewis. After several years working in this genre, Baras felt that he was at a dead end, and so he continued to search for his vocabulary.
Baras then moved to abstraction. During this period Baras also began to explore landscape which touched upon classical art and allowed him to further develop his painting skills. He became fascinated by movement, and how it would translate in his work. He was attracted to leafless trees and saw them as kinetic sculptures. The love of ballet and observation of trees brought a sense of movement onto the canvas influencing his abstraction, landscapes and figures. Baras’s evolution and constant searching was emblematic of artists of his generation.
At the beginning of his artistic pursuit, Baras decided that he did not want to exhibit his work. Since he left the world of Business behind, he did not want to enter the Business of Art. Baras thought that the search was enough for him and he did not want sales to influence his painting choices. Baras always said that since Cezanne never sold a painting why should he! Baras occasionally sold to friends but tended to have some regret at the loss.
During the last 30 years Baras lived and worked half the year in Southern France. He painted in the same hills as Mattisse, Chagall, Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne and Van Gogh. These years in France brought a different light to the canvas and the lush vegetation and flowers bought more joy and abandon to his work.
Baras loved being in his studio and always felt lucky to be able to pursue a life of creation. He felt at his best when working and even when frustrated he was always thrilled to be where he was….in his studio painting.