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Born Charles Robert Redford, Jr. (August 18, 1936), and better known as Robert Redford, an American actor, film director, producer, businessman, environmentalist, philanthropist, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival.
Redford was born in Santa Monica, California, he dreamed of being an artist, so at the age of 19, in 1955, he hitchhiked to New York and from there made his way to Paris where he hung out for 18 months with politically active artists and students. He did pavement art chalk drawings directly onto the pavements for tourists to throw him coins.
Robert Redford was interviewed in The New Zealand Herald by Peter Calder; 25th June 2011…….and was asked this question:
‘You nearly became an artist and I know that you ended up in Paris and Florence in the 50s drawing on pavements. Did that time in Europe make a big contribution to the kind of person you became?’
“It absolutely was a huge change in my life. I had been kicked out of school – I was never a good student, because my mind was always outside the window; I wanted to be out in the world. Anyway, I was asked to leave and I saved enough money to last me for a year and I would travel in different countries and learn about other cultures. In doing that, I realised how little I knew about my own country. I would get challenged by students in France about US policies and I didn’t have answers for them. I was sort of humiliated. And I began to look at my country from other countries’ points of view and so when I returned a year later and landed in New York I had a much broader view of the US, the positives and the negatives.”
Pavement art became a popular activity after World War II with an influx of ex-service-men taking to the streets in both London and Paris. They would often display their war-time medals alongside their pavement chalking’s. This would generate a great deal of sympathy amongst the general public and so attract more pennies.
Redford still has an interest in streeet art and in 2010, a skier looks over a piece of art on a wall during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 22, 2010. The gathering, backed by Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute for film, a U.S. event for movies made outside Hollywood’s major studios.
The Sundance Film Festival was set-up by Redford’s company WILDWOOD In 1978. It’s currently the largest independent cinema festival of it’s kind in the United States. In 2010, it attracted the attentions of another kind of street art: Graffiti artist, BANKSY!
Written & researched by Philip Battle.
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