Robert B. Berkshire was born in 1932. An Indianapolis native, he attended Arsenal Technical High School and was a scholarship student at the John Herron Art Institute. He graduated in 1954 with a diploma in fine arts. A Fulbright Fellowship funded his year-long studies in Italy. He earned a master’s degree in fine arts from Florida State University in 1958 and returned to Herron to teach. He remained a beloved member of the faculty until his retirement as a professor emeritus in 1996. He died on December 17, 2010 at the age of 79.
Berkshire painted with a verve that leapt from the canvas. In a 2002 article about an upcoming retrospective at the Indiana State Museum, he said “I’m interested in the space in a painting. As the images I’m working with in a painting become real to me, I like to be able to see what I’m doing by moving through the space that surrounds them. I don’t want to see just what’s facing me, but also what’s all around and behind it.”
He painted the way he lived: Large. He became one of Indianapolis’ best-known painters, while nurturing his students well and rigorously.
Berkshire made one of the first gifts to the capital campaign that moved Herron School of Art and Design from 16th and Pennsylvania streets to its new home on the IUPUI campus in 2005. The Robert B. Berkshire Gallery was named in his honor.
His commitment to his students lives on: Herron School of Art and Design is the sole beneficiary of his estate. The sale of works from his estate will benefit Herron’s mission in accordance with his wishes.