Roger Allen Kotoske


About the Artist:


Roger Allen Kotoske is best known for his sculptural works in plastic; however, he was also a prolific abstract painter. Kotoske was a pivotal force in the Denver avant- garde art scene in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a pioneer in the use of plastic as an art material, using fiberglass to create sculptural wall reliefs, experimenting with vacuum-formed plastic to produce modular wall elements and, finally, casting solid polyester resin sculptures. Concerned about the health effects of long-term exposure to resin chemicals, Kotoske returned to painting in the late 1970’s. He applied his investigations of the relationship of form and color, originally pursued in three dimensions, to the two dimensional canvas, developing his signature style of hard edge abstraction.  Always a skillful colorist, he continued exploring the possibilities of abstraction for the next thirty years, until his death in 2010.


The abstract expressionist, Roger Kotoske, played a dynamic role in the mid-century modernist movement of Denver, Colorado.  Hugh Grant, director of Denver’s Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Arts, recently told The Denver Post that Roger was “one of the most original and inventive artists we have had in Colorado.”  During the early 50s and 60s, Roger’s painting evolved from works in oil on canvas to textured collages of oil over bamboo, nails and polyester resin on wood.  These works, exhibited at the Madison Gallery in New York City, were also frequently shown at the Denver Art Museum, Denver’s The Gallery, the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City and Gallery Escondido in Taos, where Roger established a life long friendship  with the painter Oli Sihvonen.  By 1963, Roger’s style had become trendsetting in Denver for the warping, slashing and splintering of the plywood planes on which he painted.  The three-dimensionality of these works led him to investigate sculpture with a series of fiberglass modulars, then the vacuum formed units for wall relief pictured above, created in conjunction with the Samsonite Corporation.  As vice president of the Denver National Sculpture Symposium, he helped to bring Robert Morris, Angelo Di Benedetto, Richard Van Buren, Peter Forakis, Tony Magar, Dean Fleming, Robert Mangold, William Verhelst and himself together in the summer of 1968 to create and install outdoor sculptures in Denver’s Burns Park.

Roger moved to Champaign, Illinois in the fall of 1968.  For the next nine years he focused on casting polyester resins, capturing color in the plasticity of luminously transparent states.  He had representation at this time with the James Yu Gallery in New York City, Gilman Galleries in Chicago and the Brena Gallery, Denver.  Considered an early authority on sculpting with modern materials, he was also published in three books on sculpture casting and techniques.  Due to the toxic nature of the resins, he abandoned sculpting in 1978 and turned to painting hard-edged geometric abstractions in acrylic on canvas, shifting toward a more spontaneous freedom of brush stroke as he aged.  Most of his works after 2000 were acrylic paint and graphite on paper. 

Roger’s parallel career was teaching.  He got his start as an assistant professor (1958-68) for the Department of Art at Denver University, where he had earned his undergraduate and masters degrees as a prized student of the internationally recognized painter, Vance Kirkland.  He next taught for twenty-nine years with the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, retiring as professor emeritus in 1997.  He served nationally as a symposium panelist, guest artist and lecturer at countless arts schools; directed and narrated the TV film Interview of Four Colorado Artists (1963); and appeared at work in his studio in The Image Makers (1964), circulated in the U.S. and Europe.  Inclusive in his many awards were four Ford Foundation grants.

The artist’s works are held in over 100 private collections.  His exhibition history includes the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the Rockhill Nelson Gallery, Kansas City, the Kansas City Art Institute; the University of Illinois, Urbana; the University of Hong Kong & Chinese Cultural University, Taiwan; the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; the Art Yard, Denver, and Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.  Pieces are currently on display at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts, Urbana, and in Denver at the Kirkland Museum and Burns Park.  A native of South Bend, Indiana, Roger died in November 2010 at the age of 77 in his Champaign, Illinois home.






1933                Born in South Bend, IN

2010                Died in Champaign, IL



1958-68      University of Denver, Department of Art, Denver, CO.  

1968-97      Professor, School of Art & Design, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL.

1968-80      Numerous engagements throughout the U.S. as artist-in-residence, visiting artist     
                   or lecturer.



MA & BFA, University of Denver, Denver, CO.


Solo Exhibitions

1979            Gallery of the Loretto Hilton Center, Webster College, St. Louis, MOKotoske: Painting
                    & Sculpture.

1978            Hiestand Gallery, Miami University, Oxford, OH: Meet Me on the Square, New Works.

1974            James Yu Gallery, Soho, NY: Roger Kotoske: Sculpture.

1972            Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, Webster College, St. Louis, MO.

1971            Peoria Art Guild, Peoria, IL.  Roger Kotoske/Sculpture.

1970            Hiestand Gallery, Miami University, Oxford, OH.

1969            The Pollock Gallery, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX.

1963            The Gallery, Dallas, TX.

1963-68      The Gallery, Denver, CO: 6 consecutive annual shows.


Two Person Exhibitions

1963            Richard Scott Gallery, Chicago, IL, with Warrington Colscott.

1962            Madison Gallery, New York, NY.

                    Gallery Escondido, Taos, NM.


Group Exhibitions

2011            Kirkland Museum, Denver, CO: Colorado Abstract Expressionism

1999            Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO: Vanguard Art in
                    Colorado: 1940-1970

1996            Artyard Gallery, Denver, CO: Reunion at the ARTYARD: Kotoske, Mangold, Verhelst.

1956-89       Numerous competitive exhibitions in the U.S. over the course of 33 years. 

1987            Chinese National Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing, China.

1985            Brena Gallery, Denver, CO.

                    Goodman Quad Pilot Gallery, Indianapolis, IN.  

1983            NAB Gallery, Chicago, IL: South of I-80: An Exhibit of Downstate Illinois Artists.

1982            Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, China.

1981            Hwa Kang Museum, Chinese Cultural University, Taiwan, China. 

                    National Museum of History, Taiwan, China. 

1980-82      Illinois Painters III, 18-month traveling exhibition of 25 painters sponsored by the 
                   Illinois  Arts Council.

1980           Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN.

1977-79      Brena Gallery, Denver, CO: 3 consecutive annual shows.

1977-78      James Yu Gallery, Soho, NYC: 2 consecutive annual shows.

                   Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN: Contemporary American

                   Painting and Sculpture, selections from the James Yu Gallery.

                   Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana, IL.

1976           Greys Gallery, New York University, NYC: Report from Soho.

1973-75      James Yu Gallery, Soho, NYC: 3 consecutive annual shows.

1972-75      Gilman Galleries, Chicago, IL: 4 consecutive annual shows.

1975           Brainerd Hall Art Gallery, State University of New York at Potsdam, NY: Plastics.
14 internationally recognized artists, including Arman, Duan Hanson & John De Andrea,
                   shown through participating galleries: Allan Stone, Paula Cooper, Andrew Crispo, 
                   James Yu, Martha Jackson, Max Hutchison, Nancy Hoffman, OK Harris, Pace.         

                   Kansas City Art Institute, Kemper Gallery, Kansas City, MO: A Pictorial History of the 

                    Brena Gallery, Denver, CO.

1974            Lakeview Center for the Arts & Sciences, Peoria, IL: The Cooley Collection.

1973            J. Walter Thompson Agency, John Hancock Building, Chicago, IL: Artists of Illinois.   

1972            Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. 

1971            NCCA Drawing Exhibition, Chicago, IL.

                    Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL.

1970            Springfield Art Association, Springfield, IL: Sculptors from Chicago Galleries.

                    Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL.

1968            Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: The Art of Organic Form.

           Denver Sculpture Symposium, Burns Park, Denver, CO: vice president participating 
           sculptor with Robert Morris, Angelo Di Benedetto, Richard Van Buren, Peter Forakis,  
           Tony Magar, Dean Fleming, Robert Mangold & William Verhelst.          

           Tudor Galleries, Denver, CO: Multiples.

1963-68      The Gallery, Denver, CO, 6 consecutive annual shows. 

1968-89      University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL: Art faculty shows and traveling exhibitions
                    over the course of 21 years.    

1967            Salt Lake City, UT: Western Annual Invitational.

1966            University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY: Western Annual Invitational.

1965            Chandler Gallery, Dallas, TX.

                    Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO: Western Annual Invitational.

                    Salt Lake City Art Museum, Salt Lake City, UT: Rocky Mountain Invitational              

                    Henderson Museum Gallery of Fine Arts, University of Colorado, Boulder,CO: 8    
                    Colorado Artists.

1964            Chandler Gallery, Dallas, TX.

                    Fort Worth Art Center, Fort Worth, TX: Western United States Artist  Invitational.

1963            Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO: Collector’s Choice Invitational.

                    Gallery Escondido, Taos, NM.

                    Parks Gallery, Dallas, TX.

                    Tex Arkansas Gallery, Tex Arkansas, TX.

1962            Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

1956-61       Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO: Denver Metropolitan Exhibitions, competitive 
                    (1956,58 & 61); Own Your Own Exhibitions, competitive (1956, 58 & 59)

1961            Madison Gallery, New York, NY. 

                    Art Direction Gallery, New York, NY.

                    Richard Scott Gallery, Chicago, IL.

                    Rockhill Nelson Gallery, Kansas City, MO. 

                    Gallery Escondido, Taos, NM.                                                               

                    Design Center, Denver, CO. 

                    Phyllis Montrose Gallery, Central City, CO. 

1960            Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. 

                    Gallery Escondido, Taos, NM.

                    Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO: Collector’s Choice Invitational.

                    The Gallery, Denver, CO.

1959            Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM: Western Invitational.   

                    Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO: State of Colorado Faculty Exhibition.

1957            Utah State University, Logan, UT: Rocky Mountain Invitational.  



Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver, CO.

Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO. 

Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO. 

William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City, MO. 

Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. 

State University of New York at Oswego, NY.

Giralda, A Mansion in May, Loantaka Way, Madison, NJ. 

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL.

Bloomington Federal Savings & Loan: Lincoln, IL & Normal, IL. 

Franklin Mint, Philadelphia, PA.

University of Denver, Denver, CO. 

City of Denver, CO, Burns Park. 

State Mutual Assurance Corporation, Denver, CO.

Country Day School, Denver, CO.

Kent School, Denver, CO.

Over 100 private collections.



1975-79      4 consecutive Ford Foundation Grants, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL.

1969-79      Numerous fellowships, research & materials grants from the University of Illinois,     
                   Urbana-Champaign, IL.

1975           Museum Purchase Award, Kansas City Art Institute, Kemper Gallery, Kansas

                   City, MO: A Pictorial History of the World.  2 drawings.

1968           Museum Purchase Award, State University of New York at Oswego, NY: Artist-Teacher 
                   Today U.S.A.  

1965           Faculty Research Award, University of Denver, Denver, CO. 

1964            Shell Oil Travel Grant, University of Denver, CO.

1962            Salk Foundation, “Partner in Science Award,” University of Denver, Denver, CO.

1959            Mid America Purchase Award, Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO: Ninth 
                    Annual Mid-America Exhibition.  

1958            Museum Purchase Award, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO: Own Your Own


Selected Publications

1988            Sculpture: Tools, Materials and Techniques, Second Edition, Wilbert Verhelst, Prentice-
                    Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:  Kotoske’s silastic rubber mold processes for
                    plastic casting. First edition printed in 1973.

1972            Sculpture Casting, Dona Z. Meilach & Dennis Kowal, Crown Publishers:14- pages on   
                    Kotoske’s silastic rubber mold processes for plastic casting. 

1972           The Artist Eye, Dona Z. Meilach, Regnery Press: Text on how modern technology &      
                   materials changed artistic form development, including images of work by Oldenburg,    
                   Matta, Marisol, Max Bill.     

1969            Contact World, December 1969.            

1968            A New Vision: Public Spaces with Sculpture, Smithsonian, Benjamin Forgery.  
                    Write-up and 12 x 8” color photo. 


Products Developed

1968            Vacuum formed modular units for wall reliefs created in conjunction with the 
                    Samsonite Corporation.


Selected Panels & Other Recognition

1968            Textbook Design Consultant, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc., New York, NY.

1967            Fulbright Committee, University of Denver, CO.  The first assistant professor
                    at D.U. to serve on this committee for the state of Colorado.

                    *E.A.T. Symposium, Denver, CO.  Panelist with Billy Klüver & John Mason from NY, 

                    Angelo di Benedetto & Roger Kotoske from CO. 

                    Park Place Symposium, Denver, CO.  Panelist with artists from the Paula

                    Cooper Gallery, NY, and a select few artists from CO. 

1965            Fiberglass Bass Violin Trouble Shooter, Thought Research Plastics

1964            The Image Makers, TV film segment showing Kotoske at work in his studio

                     with fiberglass and polyester resin. Circulated in Europe & the US. 

1963            Interview of Four Colorado Artists, TV film interviewer, narrator, director.

                    The Figure U.S.A., TV film writer, reporter, narrator.



1973-78      James Yu Gallery, Soho, NYC.

1970-74      Gilman Galleries, Chicago, IL.

1974           Tower Parks Gallery, Peoria, IL. 

                   Brena Gallery, Denver, CO.


* E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) was founded in 1966 by artists Robert Rauschenberg & Robert Whitman with engineers Billy Klüver & Fred Waldhauer to stimulate technological/artistic collaborations through industrial sponsorship.


 Kotoske Resume.pdf


Additional Information:

Born: 1933
Birthplace: South Bend, Indiana
Died: 2010