Artist: Philip Pearlstein (American, 1924-2022)
Title: President Robert L. Hess
Dimensions: 44″ x 36″
Location in Library: First floor
Media: Oil on canvas
Owner: The Brooklyn College Library Collection. © Philip Pearlstein
Robert L. Hess (1932-1992) was Brooklyn College’s sixth president, serving from 1979 to 1991. President Hess assumed the presidency amid campus turmoil related to the 1970s “open admissions” policy. Under his leadership, the college adopted a core curriculum requiring students to take courses in art, classics, computers, mathematics, and the sciences. By 1988, the college was rated fifth in the nation in liberal arts education.
Pearlstein’s composition and powerful colors beautifully convey the bold leadership style of President Hess. The artist’s careful observation of life and emphasis on objectivity is reflected in his meticulous recording of the President’s characteristic thoughtful expression and manner.