Robert Sturman

~ Artist with a Camera ~

The subject of two New York Times articles, Robert Sturman’s art captures the timeless grace and embodied mindfulness of asana. A dedicated yoga practitioner himself, Sturman's work has increasingly gestured at something beyond the physical, something transcendent. His stunning repertoire runs the gamut from yogis perched on rocks surrounded by the Pacific ocean, to African orphans practicing yoga in Kenya, to breast cancer survivors, bare-chested and scarred. 

Sturman’s portraits, whether set in the lively streets of Manhattan, the expansiveness of Malibu's beaches and canyons, the timeless elegance of Walden's New England, or the bleakness of San Quentin Prison, remind us that there is beauty everywhere.

In his own words "I often think of Rumi: 'I can't stop pointing to the beauty.' That feels right to me." 

A native Southern Californian, Robert Sturman lives in Santa Monica with his dog, Chai.

Credentials: Official Artist 47th Annual GRAMMY AWARDS, 2010 FIFA World Cup Artist Representing the U.S.A., Official Artist 2007 United States Olympics.



1970 — Robert Charles Sturman is born on February 17th, the third and youngest child of Herbert and Beverly Sturman, in Los Angeles, California. Sturman grows up in an environment interested in literature and art.

1984 — Sturman attends boarding school in the mountain town of Idyllwild, California. His father buys him his first camera, a Pentax K1000. His passion for photography begins. When he asked his father what he was supposed to take pictures of, his father's response was "Everything that you love."

1985-1988 — While finishing up his education at Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, CA, Sturman spends most of his time in the photography department. He also enrolls at Otis College of Art and Design and takes night classes.

1988 — Sturman attends The University of California, Santa Cruz(UCSC) and focuses on studying Art History and Drawing. He develops a friendship with master photographer, William Giles, who lives and works in Carmel, California. While still attending UCSC, Sturman becomes his apprentice for two years. He learns the foundations of photography while working in the darkroom, producing fine prints, and creating with a large format 8x10 camera. His friendship with Giles continues past graduation.

1992 — After graduating from UCSC with a B.A. in Art and an emphasis in Painting and Drawing, Sturman attends The Memphis College of Art for two years. He studies under Italian master painter, John Torina, whose ephemeral images later echo in Sturman's work.

2000 — Sturman visits India and Nepal, inspiring him to create his first comprehensive body of work. He is greatly moved by Osho, the Indian mystic poet and painter, and his principles of creativity, which soon affect his life as an artist and the responsibility that comes with it.

2000-2002 — During this period, Sturman makes four separate trips to Cuba to create the "Cuba Libre, An American Artist in Cuba'" series. This work marks the beginning of a deep appreciation and fascination with music.

2003 — Sturman spends three months creating a series of images in Europe, studying master artists such as Michelangelo, da Vinci, Rodin and Picasso. In Poland, Sturman visits Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration Camp. This experience changes his life, reaffirming the importance of assuming responsibility for his life.

2004 — Sturman is selected by The National Academy of Recording Arts& Sciences to be the official artist for the 47th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

2005 — Sturman is commissioned by The United States Olympic Committee to create exclusive portraits of The Hall of Fame Olympians. The Living Wellness Foundation honors Sturman with the Creative Visionary Award; other invited honorees include His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Kunzang Rinpoche, the 'Tibetan Treasure Finder.'

2006 — Sturman collaborates with B.B. King to create an 80th Birthday portrait.

2007 — Sturman is asked by 2xist clothing company to create their ad campaign. The president of the company, Mike Tawil, is a collector of Sturman's work, and gives the artist 100% freedom to self express for the campaign. The Tyra Banks show featured Sturman's campaign and the winner of Americas Top Model/Men won a shoot with Sturman which was aired on her show.

2007-2008 — Sturman creates his most prolific series of artwork entitled, "Poetry of the Gods," A comprehensive study of the beautiful practice of Yoga. The series receives international recognition in the world of yoga and inspires Sturman to create a coffee table book. In addition, an iPHONE application, entitled "Yoga Visions," is created to celebrate this illustrious series of artwork.

2009 — Sturman is chosen by the city of West Hollywood as their official artist for their 25th anniversary. He is also chosen by FIFA, World Cup Soccer games to create an artwork representing America's participation in the first ever World Cup held on the African continent.

2010 — After Hurricane Katrina, Sturman makes 5 trips to New Orleans resulting in a coffee table book celebrating 50 of New Orleans finest musicians — Proceeds benefit musicians of Louisiana who lost everything in the hurricane. 

2011 to present — Sturman begins a new series photographing within United States prisons, exploring Yogis behind bars — rehabilitation through the practice of yoga. 

2013 — Sturman aligns himself with Africa Yoga Project, based in Nairobi, Kenya and produces a a portfolio recognized and celebrated by the New York Times.

2015 to present — Sturman begins a extensive body of work photographing yoga in the military. 




2008 — Turner House Gallery — Valdosta, Georgia — Retrospective Exhibition

2007 — Celebrity Vault Gallery, Beverly Hills — The Art of New Orleans Music exhibition

2006 — Bergamot Station, BGH Gallery, Santa Monica, California — Tranquility exhibition

2005 — Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN: "In the Mix — Selected Works by Robert Sturman"

2004 — Risk Press Gallery (Melrose), West Hollywood, CA: "Mandalay and the Skies of Serendipity"

2002 — Studio Gallery, Santa Monica, CA: "The European Series"

2001 — Studio Gallery, Santa Monica, CA: "Cuba Libre - an American Artist in Cuba"

2000 — The Hatch Gallery, Los Angeles, CA: "Visual Poems"

1999 — Potrero Hill Brewing Company, San Francisco, CA: "Blues Highway"

1998 — Vision Gallery, San Diego, CA: "Song of the Waves"


The Painterly Polaroid Style

In browsing through the work, the style that looks painterly is actually a Polaroid technique and no digital alterations have been added.

Here's how:

In finding his own artistic signature, Sturman developed and refined an improvisational, labor-intensive process that synthesizes both his photographic and painterly expertise. Each of his pieces begins with an original image created with a Polaroid SX-70 camera, instant photographic film, and meticulously considered lighting. As soon as the image comes out of the camera, Sturman warms it up to keep the chemical emulsions fluid—depending on his locale when shooting, source heat might be the sun in the tropics, or the warmth of his winter coat in cooler climes. 

On site wherever he is in the world, Sturman then immediately carves into the still wet and supple surface of the photo with a variety of handmade tools until he feels the image has been manipulated and transformed to its ultimate potential. The piece is later enlarged using an optimally high-resolution scanner, and a process through which none of the original light radiance or color luminosity is lost. Because Sturman chooses his subject matter in advance with its inherent color values in mind, his palette is extraordinary. Coupled with the impressionistic "brushstrokes" of Sturman's hand implements, the result is as pure a fusion of painting and photography as exists anywhere. 

In 2010, with the closing of Polaroid, Sturman made the shift to digital photography.