Lepper, Robert

Alternative names
Birth 1906
Death 1991

Biographical notes:

Robert L. Lepper was born in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania and graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1927. After spending thirteen months in Europe studying art, Lepper worked for the Sun-Telegraph as a "hack artist." He joined the faculty at Carnegie Tech in 1930 where he would remain until his retirement in 1975. He married Helen Jewett in 1933. They had one daughter, Susan. Mr. Lepper was instrumental in establishing the first degree-granting School of Industrial Design at Carnegie Tech in 1934. It was the first of its kind in the country. To ease the unemployment problems caused by the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration established the Federal Arts Project (1935-1943) to employ the nation's artists. During the 1930s, the Treasury Department also established two art programs: the Treasury Relief Project and the Section of Fine Arts. Mr. Lepper painted murals in the Grayling, Michigan and Caldwell, Ohio post offices for the Section of Fine Arts (1934-1943). From 1940-1942, he also painted a mural for West Virginia University in the new Mineral Industries Building which depicted the prevalent industries in the area. At Carnegie Mellon University, the sandblasted mural in the Tepper School (GSIA) was done by Mr. Lepper in 1952. Lepper also pioneered the use of plastic (acrylic resin) with powdered pigments in his work. He pursued the idea of passenger comfort in public transportation in the late 1960s with his Transit Vehicle Design project which stressed an angled seating arrangement. As an educator, he believed in letting students be independent thinkers and use their own creativity. He developed a curriculum within the School of Industrial Design that emphasized this independence in students. Starting in 1965, he taught the Individual and Social Analysis course, which was a two semester course. The first semester was the Oakland Project; the second semester was called Retrospective. As an artist, Robert Lepper was very much influenced by the impact of the machine on society which is seen in his art work.

From the description of Papers of Robert L. Lepper, 1920-1989. (Carnegie Mellon University). WorldCat record id: 497102922


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Ark ID:


  • Art--Slides
  • Machinery in art
  • New Deal art
  • Art--Exhibitions
  • Mural painting and decoration
  • Sculpture
  • Industrial design
  • Art--Study and teaching


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