Robert Bateman has been a keen artist and naturalist from his early days. He has always painted wildlife and nature, beginning with a representational style, moving through impressionism and cubism to abstract expressionism. In his early 30's he moved back to realism as a more suitable way to express the particularity of the planet. It is this style that has made him one of the foremost artists in his genre.
In the '70s and early '80s, Bateman's work began to receive critical acclaim and to attract an enormous following. His work is in many public and private collections, and several art museums, including the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, WY. He was commissioned by the Governor-General of Canada to create a painting as the wedding gift for HRH Prince Charles from the people of Canada. His work is also represented in the collection of HRH Prince Philip, the late Princess Grace of Monaco and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Bateman has had many one-man museum shows throughout North America, including an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; most of these shows have drawn record-breaking crowds.
His honours, awards and honorary doctorates are numerous: he was made Officer of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian award in 1984. He has also been given the Rachel Carson Award (1996), the Golden Plate from the American Academy of Achievement (1998) and the Order of British Columbia (2001), and Human Rights Defender Award from Amnesty International (2007); he was named one of the 20th Century's Champions of Conservation by the U.S. National Audubon Society (1998).
Through his long association with Mill Pond Press, thousands of wildlife lovers the world over have been able to enjoy Bateman prints. Books about his life and art include The Art of Robert Bateman, The World of Robert Bateman and Robert Bateman: An Artist in Nature and Natural Worlds. Thinking Like a Mountain, an environmentalist's look at the world and Bateman's Birds brought sales of his books to over 1,000,000 copies. Three children's books are Safari [African animals], Backyard Birds and Birds of Prey. He has also been the subject of several films and television programs. It is in honour of Bateman's contribution to art and conservation that one public and two secondary schools have been named after him. As well, he has been awarded 11 honorary doctorates.
Born in Toronto, with a degree in geography from the University of Toronto, Bateman taught high school for 20 years, including two years in Nigeria. He travelled around the world in a Land Rover in 1957/58, increasing his appreciation of cultural and natural heritage. Since leaving teaching in 1976 to paint full-time, he has travelled widely with his artist/conservationist wife Birgit to many remote natural areas.
Bateman's art reflects his commitment to ecology and preservation. Since the early 1960's, he has been an active member of naturalist and conservation organizations, now on a global scale. He has become a spokesman for many environmental and preservation issues and has used his artwork and limited edition prints in fund-raising efforts that have provided millions of dollars for these worthy causes.
He says, "I can't conceive of anything being more varied and rich and handsome than the planet Earth. And its crowning beauty is the natural world. I want to soak it up, to understand it as well as I can, and to absorb it . . . and then I'd like to put it together and express it in my painting. This is the way I want to dedicate my life."