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To Know the Rules and to Break the Rules: Notes on Richard Merkin's Style

By Dennis Congdon
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Richard Merkin wearing F.L. Dunne suit (now in the collection of the RISD Museum) and contemplating his own self-portrait, in Esquire, The Magazine for Men, December 1972. Gosta Peterson, photographer.

Richard Merkin (RISD MFA 1963, Painting) taught painting and drawing at RISD for 42 years (1963–2005). He was known not only for his artwork—bright-colored images of jazz musicians and sports heroes—but also for his distinctive personal style. These are the notes I typed for a gallery conversation reflecting on Merkin’s character and comparing his improvisation in dress to jazz.

RISD professor of painting Dennis Congdon’s notes for a lecture at the RISD Museum.

Dennis Congdon, (RISD BFA 1975, Painting)
RISD Professor of Painting