BORN: Brooklyn, New York; 1937


1961 B.I.D. (Bachelor in Industrial Design), Environmental Design, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
General Motors Scholarship for Undergraduate Study in Design
1963 M.F.A., Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 1963
1963 Graduate studies in philosophy, Columbia University, 1963
1963 Graduate studies in psychology, New York University, 1963
1960-63 Instructor in Design and Sculpture, Art School and School of Building Science, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
1963-65 Arts, Architecture and Core Curriculum Instructor and Founding Faculty Member, Franconia College, Franconia, NH
1965-Present Artist, Urban Designer and Regional Planner
1966 Manager Lazy Eight Inc, R&D Group, MA
1976 Co-founder of the Contemporary Arts Center with Jeanne Nathan, New Orleans, LA
1988-92 Visiting professor in Urban Design, Tulane School of Architecture, New Orleans, LA
2003 Co Founder, Downtown Neighborhoods Improvement Association
2005- Present, consultant, RAND Corporation and AECOM engineering


Robert Tannen is an artist, economic and urban development and design specialist, planner and community activist whose 60 year artistic, professional and community service career has resulted in more than $3 billion of public/private projects in the lower Mississippi Valley and the Gulf Coast.

He has produced major new innovative art works since his high school years when be began showing installation projects on Tenth Street in New York City when the abstract expressionist movement was just beginning to be challenged by a younger generation working with conceptual, performance and installation art. Fatherhood at a young age took him out of the New York art market, but did not end his original art creations. Whether constructions of beach debris, wrapped objects, animals suspended in plastic bags of formaldehyde, furniture covered in rags dipped in resin, large scale works out of tractor tires, concrete blocks, or sheet metal “archisculptures”, Tannen’s work has preceded related work by better known artists.

He forged plans for the Gulf Coast restoration after Camille; led environmental studies and an open land use and transportation regional planning process for the New Orleans metropolitan area; designed ramps for a new New Orleans bridge designed to save neighborhoods; managed creation of a city wide neighborhoods historic districts plan; chose the riverfront site for the 1984 Louisiana World Expo that led to a transformation of the New Orleans Riverfront; and stimulated and helped realize riverfront and downtown festival and retail projects, parks, hotels, an arena next to the Superdome, and a riverfront street car system..

His artwork throughout these decades reflected these same civic, urban and environmental concerns.


1957 and 1958 Sculpture Exhibit, March Gallery, New York, NY
1961 “Sculpture and Drawing,” Great Jones Gallery, New York, NY196x – 19
1962 “Paper Universe and a Lecture Series of ‘Happenings’,” Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
1964 “Sculpture and Mural/Drawings,” Carpenter Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
1964 Theatre “Sculptural and Architectural Installations, Franconia, NH
1975 Large scale curved metal sculpture selected for New Orleans Federal Building by Arts Committee
1976 “N.A.S.A. Reject,” installation, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
1981 “Shotgun Houses,” P.S. 1, Long Island City, NY
1981 “Louisiana Experience”, Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York, NY
1982 “Mixed Media,” Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA
1985 “Shotgun Temple”, permanent outdoor sculpture, Bayou Road, New Orleans, LA
1990 “Reprospective”, one man retrospective, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
1991 “Represpective”, one man retrospective, Santa Monica Museum of Art
1992 “Interactive Exhibition of Shotgun Building Blocks”, Thread Waxing Space, NYC
2005 “1,2,3, and Four Letter Words”, Radici Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2006 “Surviving the Hurricane”, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
2006 “Modgun”, A Modular Shotgun designed for recovery, and redevelopment, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA; collaborative mod-gun design with Frank Gehry of a Modgun, “Gehry-Gun”
2007 “Cat-5”, Installation, Kirsha Kaechele Project, New Orleans, LA
2008 “Stardust, One Man Retrospective”, Ogden Museum of Southern Art
2008 “Installation of Ball Drawings”, Kirsha Kaechele Project, New Orleans, LA
2008 “N.E.W.S.”, a compass installation composed of boulders for Lee Circle in New Orleans
2008 – 2010 “Studio 529”, a warehouse space for showing works by emerging artists on Julia Street, the city’s main art corridor
2009 “Boulder #0” on exhibit in front of a private New Orleans Residence
2011 “Art by Committee”, at Art House on the Levee, a prospect.2 installation in a 9th Ward shotgun house that invited the public to paint on 12′ by 15′ murals, resulting in 21 murals donated to public facilities
2010 – 2011 “Grains of Sand”, and installation comprised of fifteen numbered boulder sculpture sites throughout the grounds of the 125 acre forest and trails at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
2012 “A Catalpa Tree, Reality, Resurrection, Revolution and Joshua Reynolds”, an installation of sculpture, drawings, photographs and a book, Homespace Gallery, New Orleans


1957-60 “Sculpture and Drawing Exhibition,” Brata Gallery, E. 10th St., New York, NY
1957 “Sculpture and Drawing Exhibition,” March Gallery, E. 10th St, New York, NY
1960 “Sculpture and Drawing Exhibition,” Globe Gallery, E. 10th St., New York, NY
1960 “Sculpture and Drawing Exhibition,” Tanager Gallery, New York, NY
1961 “Sculpture and Drawing Exhibition,” Great Jones Gallery, New York, NY
1962 “Group Exhibition,” Park Place Gallery, New York, NY
1963 “Young Sculptors,” Riverside Museum, New York, NY
1966 “Soft Playgrounds and Play Sculpture,” Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA
1967 “Floating Sculpture Exhibition,” Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
1975 “Artists Biennial,” New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
1976 “Studio Exhibit” Robert Tannen and James LaLande,” old Bywater church, New Orleans, LA (This show was the catalyst for the formation of the Contemporary Arts Center.)
1977 “Artists Biennial,” New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
1977 First exhibit of “archisculpture” shotgun houses, Contemporary Arts Center
1980 “Southern Realism,” Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
1981 “Louisiana Major Works,” Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
1981 “The Image of the House in Contemporary Arts,” Lawndale Annex, U. of Houston, TX
1982 “Southern Outdoor Sculpture,” Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS (Traveled)
1983 “World’s Fair-Unfair”, sculptures and installation, “Artists Triennial,” New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
1984 “Art Works ’84,” Louisiana Expo ’84, New Orleans, LA
1987 One Man Exhibit with guest artists, Shooting Star Gallery, New Orleans, LA
1992 “Glass Experiments”, Artist-in-Residence, Pilchuck, Seattle, WA
1992 “Reprospective with Frank Gehry and a group of California Architects”, Santa Monica Museum of Arts, Santa Monica, CA
1993 “Oyster Shell Exhibit”, Cedar Street Gallery, New York, NY
1995 “Mississippi River Gateway Bridge” in association with Joe Lobuono for Frederick R. Harris, New Orleans, LA
1996 “Shotgun House Exhibit”, Esplanade Avenue Studio and Garden, New Orleans,
2000 “Dreaming and Thinking of Objects, Space, Time and E-Motion”, Atrium Installation for “Kinetics: Calder and Beyond”, CAC, New Orleans, LA
2001 “Songs of the Mississippi”, Le Festival Garonne, Toulouse, France
2002 “African- American Artists of New Orleans” Open Exhibit, Curator, Robert Tannen, Barristers Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2003 Shotguns Topsy Turvy with Raised to the Trade, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
2005 “Raw Data: Conceptual Art in Louisiana” Installation at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
2007 Post-Katrina exhibit at Kirsha Kaechele Project, New Orleans, LA
2008 Stardust and Boulders, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2010 Group Show, “Mountain”, Sculpture, Good Children
2011 Louisiana Artists, Mobile, AL
2012 “A Hanging 3D Painting”, New Orleans Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, LA
2013 “Brown: A One Color Theory”, Neal Auction Company, New Orleans, LA