Robert A. Schaefer Jr. was born in the teeny, tiny town of Cullman, Alabama which is between Birmingham and Huntsville. In 1975 he received his BA of Architecture Degree from Auburn University. Then he moved to Munich, Germany where he studied photography, architecture and theatre at the Technische Universitaet in Munich and graduated in 1978 with a MA of Architecture (Diplom Ingenieur Architekt). During this time he became a part of the Joerg Walter Koch Gallery in Munich and the Ufficio dell Arte Gallery in Paris, France where his photography was put into the permanent collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale. Exhibitions during this time included Amerika Hauses (cultural part of the American Embassy) in Munich, Hamburg, Hannover and Frankfurt; Kulturhaus in Graz, Austria where he was exhibited with David Hockney and Institut Francais in Munich.In 1981 Schaefer moved to New York City where he still lives and photographs. From November 1997 to January 1998 he had a one-person-exhibition at the Aroma Gallery in Berlin, Germany. Titled “Berlin Blau” it contained Schaefer’s newest direction of Photo Giclee. All images were scanned into a computer from a 2 1/4″ x 3 1/4″ cyanotype image of Berlin and printed out on canvas in sizes of 16″ x 20″ and 30″ x 40″. “Berlin Blau” was published in “brennpunkt” a magazine dedicated to the art of photography and published in Berlin. Robert Schaefer’s photography is found in the private collections of Kofi Annan Secretary General to the United Nations; W. M. Hunt, Photography Director of the Ricco/Maresca Gallery, Ben Fernandez, photographer, Arthur Tress, photographer, Anita Chernewski, Photographer and Peter Hay Halpert, Contributing Editor to American Photographer; public collections of Philip Morris, Inc. in NYC and the Birmingham and Huntsville Museums in Alabama.
In 1999 the newly built Huntsville Museum of Art hosted the exhibition: “Robert A. Schaefer, Jr. – 25 Years of Photography.” During this time the AGNES Gallery in Birmingham, AL. had a one-person exhibition of Schaefer’s work, as well as the Barbara Ann Levy Gallery in New York City. In 2000 he was part of a group exhibition “Art On The Line Comes Inside” at the Main Line Art Center in the greater Philadelphia Area. In 2001 Apple Macintosh invited Schaefer to put together a series of lectures for fine artpPhotographers for their New York Office. He invited five other photographers to help him present “Darkroom to Digital” or how photographers can use Apple Macintosh to create fine art photography. After the World Trade Center Disaster, my cyanotype image of the WTC (# 0378) was put into the now traveling exhibition “Here Is New York.” (Type 0378 in View By Number)
In January of 2002 the Chamot Gallery in Jersey City, NJ exhibitedSchaefer’s new portraits in an exhibition called “Facelifts” which received a very positive article in New Jersery’s “Star Ledger.” In June of 2002 a new book came out: Photography’s Antiquarian Avant-garde; written by Lyle Rexer and published by Abrams, it features one of Schaefer’s cyanotypes. In September of 2002 Schaefer began teaching photography classes in self-promotion at New York University as well as The New School. One of his speakers for these classes was his own gallerist Charles Chamot who in August of 2003 hosted an exhibition of Schaefer’s students from both universities. Titled “Fresh Eyes-Emerging Photographers, ” it provided many of the students their very first exhibition which had a very well-attended opening, sales and an article in New Jersey’s “Star Ledger.” A new art magazine “Epiphany” sponsored by New York University opened its first hard-cover issue which included Schaefer’s images with a launch party on March 25, 2004 in New York City.
In February of this 2005, Robert exhibited cyanotypes of city-scapes in an exhibition titled “City Blues” at the Silver Eye Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA. His project Two Sides of the Coin which deals with his German heritage and The Holocaust were shown for the first time at Gallery DeFrog in Houston, Texas in March and April 2006 during Fotofest and extended through May by popular demand. An article was written about this exhibition by Judith Farber for the on-line magazine Double Exposure. In 2006, Schaefer attended the Darfur Rally in Washington DC and shot film footage to add to Two Sides of the Coin which points out that even in remembering the Holocaust, genocide continues today in Bosnia, Rwanda and the Sudan. Two of his images were auctioned off in Los Angeles and New York to make money for The Aftermath Project. The Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery, Alabama exhibited Schaefer’s documentary project about a North Alabama farmer Joe Culpepper in “Portrait of An Alabama Farm” from November 10, 2007 to Januray 6, 2008. (Schaefer gave a gallery talk about the project at the Musuem on December 1, 2007).
In 2009, Robert Schaefer’s large giclees made from scanned cyanotypes were exhited at Windows on Columbus in Jesery City, NJ from September to February 2010. Two of his cyanotypes as well as a large giclee from the “Portrait of An Alabama Farm” series were shown at the Mishkin Gallery (part of Baruch College) September 16 – October 14, 2009. Schaefer’s cyanotypes were in a group exhibition of Alternative Process at the Watchung Arts Center, Watchung, NJ, January 3 – 30, 2010.
In November of 2010, the Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan in Delhi, India hosted an exhibition “Architectural Blue – Cyanotypes of India and Germany,” which are cyanotypes made from the images Schaefer made on his trip to India in 2009 as well as cyanotypes made from some the images he took in Germany. There was another exhibition during this time at the Government Museum and Art Space in Chandigarh, India sponsored by the Goethe Center there. It consisted of cyanotypes made from images Schaefer took of the Le Corbusier government buildings in Chandigarh, India as well as cyanotypes from other images taken in Germany. Both exhibitions were curated by Schaefer’s good friend Elizabeth Rogers who writes about photography and other art forms as well as curates exhibitions in Asia, Europe and The United States. She also edited the catalogue produced for both exhibitions as well as designed and oversaw the invitation and posters also being printed for the shows. The Goethe-Institut flew Robert over to speak at both openings (Chandigarh: November 11th and Delhi: November 17th) and give lectures on his photography in both Delhi and Chandigarh as well as facilitate cyanotype workshops.
On February 22, 2011, he presented a lecture “The Importance of Influence” to the students of photography and art at Union College in Schenectady, New York and on April 9th facilitated a cyanotype workshop for The Center for Alternative Photography in New York City. His course “On The Waterfront” premiered in New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies last Fall and will be offered again in the Summer 2012. On March 22nd his other new course “New York Connections: Photographing Bridges and Other Engineering Feats” is scheduled to begin as a part of the Spring Semester 2012. 2011 ended with Schaefer’s inclusion of one of his cyanotypes in the widely acclaimed Curate NY Exhibition held at the Rush Gallery in the Chelsea Art Area in Manhattan. 2012 began well with a group of Schaefer’s abstract portraits (printed with the cyanotype process) being shown at the A. Jain Marunouchi Gallery (24 West 57th Street) in Manhattan. In June, Schaefer gave a lecture on his cyanotypes for the Center for Alternative Photography at the photography fair PHOTOVILLE held in Brooklyn. In July and August he was one of three photographers in an exhibition titled AKASA curated by Elizabeth Rogers for the Lambert Fine Arts Gallery on the Lower East Side in Manhattan.
In January of 2013 three of Schaefer’s cyanotype cityscapes were shown at the A. Jain Gallery and in June Schaefer participated in an artist residency Can Serrat, which is 20 miles northwest of Barcelona, Spain. There he produced images of Barcelona printed with the Cyanotype Process to be added to his on-going project “Architectural Blues.” In September he facilitated several Cyanotype Workshops for the Center for Alternative Photography at PHOTOVILLE in Brooklyn. Also, he was in a major group exhibition at the Mishkin Gallery in Baruch College in Manhattan. In October at the Center for Alternative Photography, Schaefer presented a lecture “The Importance of Influence” about his imagery and its influences.
Three of Schaefer’s Cyanotypes of Barcelona were shown at the A. Jain Gallery in January of 2014 and another one at the grand opening of the new location of the A. Jain Gallery on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. Schaefer was recently invited to be a member of the Advisory Board for the Center for Alternative Photography and his new class “Photographing New York City from Remarkable Locations” one of the photography course being offered in New York University’s School of Professional Studies. In early August, Schaefer was one of 55 artists who were invited and participated in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s “Artist Summer Institute.” A rigorous week-long program was offered to help artists with various strategies to implement their work. They will reconvene on November 10, 2014 to see how well these strategies have worked for them. On Sunday, September 21st Schaefer again facilitated a Cyanotype Workshop at Photoville (www.photovillenyc.org) for the Penumbra Foundation/Center for Alternative Photography at whose location (36 East 30th Street) he had five cyanotypes of buildings in cites around the world in their Open House Instructors Exhibition.
In 2015 Robert was part of the Penumbra Foundation’s Group Exhibition of Instructors held during Penumbra’s Open House in October. He also had some of his new series “Cemeteries, Voodoo and the Occult” in the Penumbra Foundation’s Member Exhibition held at Soho Photo in November. Several of Robert’s abstract portraits printed with the Cyanotype Process were part of “Linear Exposure” held at the City Life Gallery in Jersey City, NJ. One of the editions of Schaefer’s cyanotype “Elektro Licht Kraft” (image was taken in Munich, Germany in 1976 and printed with the Cyanotype Process in 2010) was purchased by the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University in Alabama (Schaefer’s alma mater) in November. He is now part of the Museum’s permanent collection. After thirty-four years of living in New York City, he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. Kaden Kratzer and his wife Nadezda Nicolova Kratzer selected Schaefer’s abstract cyanotype for the “Remnants” Exhibition held in 2016 at the Lightbox Photographic Gallery in Astoria, Oregon. In March of 2017 Robert was part of the “Southern Landscapes” Exhibition at the Brickworks Gallery in Atlanta with his digital color image of the Evergreen Plantation in Louisiana. It was chosen by Elizabeth Avedon and sponsored by SxSE PhotoMagazine. Later that year, Schaefer’s haunting cyanotype print was picked by Eliot Dudik for the “Art Through the Lens” Exhibition at the Yeiser Art Gallery in Paducah, Kentucky. In 2018, photographer Kay Kenney awarded Second Place to Robert’s cyanotype of New York’s Empire State Building with an exhibition at the New York Center for Photographic Art. 2019 started off with Schaefer working as a guest instructor of Cyanotype and Van Dyke at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) for gifted high school students. Several of his cyanotypes were included in an exibition with other guest instuctors at the Kirschman Art Center in NOCCA. In the spring he was given an Honorable Mention by Renée Jacobs for his cyanotype “Female/Male Melange” in the exhibion “The Photographic Nude” held at the Lightbox Photographic Gallery in Astoria, Oregon. Most recently his cyanotype was shown in the Exhibition “Memento Mori – The Fragility of Death” at the Second Story Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana. Also, the Huntsville Museum in Huntsville, AL published “Our Shared Heritage – Alabama Artists from the Collection of the Huntsville Museum of Art and included one of the photographs by Robert Schaefer they own as well as a short bio about him. In spite of the Pandemic, Schaefer was able to make accomplishments in 2020. He was awarded a Bronze Winner Certificate in the Fine Art College Category of the Budapest International Foto Awards 2020 for his series “Identity”. A member of the New Orleans Photo Alliance, Schaefer worked as the Exhibitions Co-ordinator for the annual PhotoNOLA event held in December. Though not as extensive as in previous years, a group of photography exhibitions both virtual and real were offered to the general public in museums, galleries and restaurants as well as on the Internet. Schaefer had a virtual exhibition titled “BLUE” at the Fawkes Fine Art Gallery (https://www.fawkesfineart.com).