Robert Whitman was born in 1935 in New York. He currently lives and works in Warwick, in New York State. At the end of the 1950s, he graduated in literature from the University of New Jersey and began studying history of art at Columbia University. Robert Whitman belongs to the group of artists who, in the 1960s, put on a series of happenings at the Reuben gallery in New York, together with Allan Kaprow, redefining the relationship between the space, performer and viewer in both theatre and art. His interest in the new technologies relating to the moving image has led to him becoming one of the key figures of Expanded Cinema, a movement that attempts to surpass the limits of the traditional film medium through multiple projections and sensorial experiments. In the 1960s, in his ‘cinema pieces’, he staged a daily activity within a domestic space such as a shower cubicle or dressing table, then filmed the activity with a 16mm film before projecting the video onto the same space. In these works, the ephemerality of the projections, combined with the materiality of the environment and objects, creates a hybrid form that makes it difficult determine what is real and what is created.
In 2003 the Dia Center for the Arts, New York dedicated a large monographic exhibition to Robert Whitman, which also travelled to the Museu Serralves, Porto (2014) and Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona (2005). The work Untitled - Light Bulb (1994-95) was shown at Palazzo Grassi in the exhibition "The Illusion of Light" (2014-15).