Robert Gasoi
1932 - 1997

If my father wasn’t a born artist, then it was an intense drive that emerged around the time he became acquainted with the tooth fairy and kick the can. In school, he was encouraged by his peers to sketch comical pictures of his teachers, and by his teachers to draw signs for school events; at home he was the day dreaming artist that his father berated for not engaging in more “manly” pursuits; in the late 1940s, my father—Brooklyn kid, son of an immigrant milkman—became one of the chosen few to gain entrance to Cooper Union School of Art. Even after being inducted into the army and shipped off to Korea in 1951, he was known among the other men as “the Artist,” sitting and sketching whenever he had a few minutes. As he told it, one day before being sent to the front he was pulled to be a set painter for the SSO shows—at least this once, it is fair to say that being an artist saved his life.

Among the last recipients of the GI bill, serving as the army artist in Korea earned my father a full ride to attend the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University in England. During his two years at art school, he traveled around Europe, discovering the music of French composers such as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel and falling hopelessly in love with the city of Rome—two events that would come to define his artistic vision from that youthful epoch onward. To Rome he would return several times throughout his life. In fact, my father managed to live in Rome for stretches of time, but upon each grudging stateside return he would complain of how it was becoming more expensive, polluted, and overrun by tourist-it would never be the Rome of his first discovery. He spent his artistic career attempting to capture the essence of his Rome circa 1955 as well as to distill with paint what he heard in the music of his favorite composers.

After returning to the US in 1958, he met and married my mother, had two kids, and lived the rest of his life as a painter—with and without his family (he left us in time). Among his notable achievements, in 1972 he was awarded an America the Beautiful grant to paint a mural depicting human evolution for the Sidney, New York public school library. More of my father’s life story is told through his artwork that I hope you enjoy taking in as you explore this site.

So I will now skip to the end.

In the final year of his life, my father returned to his beloved Rome one last time. He couldn’t afford to live there anymore, so he spent his last visit taking hundreds of pictures that he then carried back to a studio he had set up for himself in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I don’t think he was planning to return to Rome again in person. As with the music he loved, he planned to paint his way back to the Rome of his first discovery and of his endless reverie.

My father died in his sleep of a massive stroke in San Miguel on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, September 16, 1997. Accompanied by my father’s dear friend, Paul Van Apeldoorn, I traveled to Mexico to collect his few belongings. In his studio, I found the photos he’d taken of Rome and three large oil paintings in progress—the outlines of fountains, streets, and hills surrounding the ancient city of his dreams.

Mixed in among his effects—newspaper clippings, family photos, reference pictures ripped from magazine travel sections and art books, I also found a scrap of paper with a poem by 11th Century Persian poet, Omar Kayyam (an avid reader from his youth, he stopped reading during the last years of his life – he told me that he only had so much eye sight left in him, and he wanted to save it for painting. But he did still recite the poems he had committed to memory). When I found Kayyam’s poem that day in his studio, I could hear his voice as I read—in a sense, my father’s last words to me:

"And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Where under crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to it for help -- for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I."

I know he loved the elegant bitterness of these words, relished the sparse grandeur of the lines. And though many experienced him as a whimsical soul, a painter who irreverently mixed classicism with fantasia, he came to live an ascetic life. Not that he denied himself worldly pleasures. But he gradually shed all but the essentials of his life that needed to be carried. In the end, he was a nomad with two small bags, almost entirely filled with art supplies. I believe that, for my father, Kayyam’s poem resonated with a dignity in letting go of any pretense of special treatment in death. He was here the day before the high holiday. On Rosh Hashanah he was gone. I couldn’t help but think that he had been working toward this clean exit. Luckily, his work endures. Please browse Robert Gasoi’s site, enjoy, comment, and query.

- Emily Gasoi

*All black and white portraits of Bob Gasoi and family by Jean Cartier

Works & Collections
Dreams of France,Layers of Rome
Dreams of France,
Layers of Rome

After painting sets for USO shows throughout the Korean War, my father traveled around Europe before attending the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University in the fall. Though he told fantastic stories of traveling with gypsies in Spain and smoking his first cigarettes in Paris cafes, Rome became his creative Mecca, his metropolitan muse. Merging ancient and modern structures, ghostly Roman soldiers, girls in twentieth century garb, and mythical creatures emerging from stone pediments, my father’s paintings brought into relief the layers of history and legend he saw animating this ancient city (see for example, Rome). He traveled back several times over the course of his life, and even lived there for ten months in 1966 with my mother, Sylvia, and my then four-year-old brother, Paul (I wasn’t yet born).

But my father also had a strong connection with France. His view of Paris was colored by the music of Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy and he paid tribute to their work and their lives in paintings spanning nearly thirty years. He painted the 19th C. Paris that he imagined they inhabited, as in Le Jardin One and Two. Southern France was home to many of the 19th and 20th C. artists he admired most: Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gaugin. In 1993 he spent a year living in the center of Aix en Province, also known as “La Ville D’Eau” (the city of water) for its many public fountains. There he was inspired to paint mostly in gouache and watercolors, see for example, Monet in His Garden and The Grand Fountain.

Le Jardin 1

Le Jardin 2


Monet In His Garden

The Grand Fountain Aix En Province At Dusk

The Seine At Night

Works & Collections
Art of Music
Art of Music

Much of my father’s work was deeply influenced by his favorite twentieth century composers. As a child, I would sit listening to the music of Stravinsky, Puccini, Holst, Debussy, and Ravel, mingled with turpentine fumes pouring from beneath the closed door of his studio. Like an alchemist, my father made music appear in pigment on canvas: stroke by whimsical stroke he transformed Fauré’s Garden of Dolly into a gouache composition; he created a series of paintings in various mediums depicting each of Holst’s Planets. But the music of Debussy and Ravel moved him most. In colored inks he illustrated the story of Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum, a piece from Debussy’s Children’s Corner. Depicting the rolling piano repetitions at the opening of this piece, my father painted a little girl who is bored practicing her scales drifting off into a fantasy land where she and her cat meet the good Doctor Gradus Ad Parnassum (I am the model for this one, though he no doubt imagined the piano player to be Debussy’s young daughter, Chou Chou); In Children’s Corner, he painted a bust of the young Chou Chou, again, a strong resemblance to me. In the last years of his life, my father began to use gouache to capture the musical pieces that moved him the most, including Debussy’s La Mer, and Ravel’s Nactuelles.

Doctor Gradas Ad Parnassum Panels 1

Doctor Gradas Ad Parnassum Panels 2

La Mer (Debussy)

Children's Corner (Debussy)

Noctuelles (Ravel)

Garden of Dolly (Fauré)

Works & Collections

My father seemed to gravitate toward gouache when he entered his nomadic phase. It began around 1987 when he determined that he would never again earn a buck by washing dishes or sweeping up. Rather, he would earn his living by painting, which is to say, for once, his living would have to adjust to his painting and not the other way around. Unfortunately, working as an artist would not support a dignified, year-round existence in the U.S. So, during the warm months, my father lived in Province Town, Cape Cod, where he found a steady patron and made enough to live on for the rest of the year outside of the country. In the cold months, he worked on his own paintings, mostly in San Miguel, Allende, in central Mexico—though one year, in 1993, he went to South of France, and near the end of his life just a few years later, he got one more visit in to his beloved Rome.

It was during this ten-year period of light travel and regular boarder crossings that my father did dozens of small gouache paintings, many of them renderings of the music he loved; others, such as The Grand Fountain, Sea Sketch, and Monet in his Garden were inspired by his travels; but many simply sprang from his fancy, such as Cosmos, Abstract Sketch and From Another World.

From Another World


Sea Sketch

Works & Collections
Oil & Acrylics
Oil & Acrylics

Uncle Morris and Aunt Lillian he did some time in the early 1970s. He told me they were our distant relatives from Russia. I knew he was telling one of his yarns, but as a kid I still believed that they were part of our family somehow (After rereading E.L. Doctorow’s historical fiction novel, Rag Time, I think Probably Aunt Lillian may have been modeled after Lillian Gish, “The Girl on a Swing...”). The pieces featured here are a small representation of his large and diverse works in oil and acrylics. He kept in practice by painting scenes from Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose, and my brother’s toys. He painted portraits, gas stations and bars, and fantastic, magical lands with human-limbed trees and alligators in the streets. Documenting my father’s work is an ongoing process and I will add more of these works in the months to come, so check back every now and then!

Magical Forrest

M. Leon

Uncle Morris

Aunt Lilian
Works & Collections
Pencil Sketches
Pencil Sketches

My father’s work was drenched in color and he prided himself on being able to accurately capture the light and color of things. He didn’t sign his name to many of his pencil sketches, but I did find a few, including a framed pencil rendition of M. Leon.

M. Leon Sketch

The Captive

The Angel of Winter

After Bernini



After his death in September 1997 I went with my father’s closest friend, Paul Van Apeldoorn, to collect his affairs from his small studio in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. What I found was a collection of bags, envelopes, folders and folios filled with newspaper clippings, painting price lists, drafts of bios for shows, sketches, reference images torn from magazines and art books, photos of friends and family, letters (some that my father had written to his parents when he was in Europe on the GI bill and that he must have collected—much I as I was then doing—from their effects after their passing). In addition, my father had been working on three large oil paintings based on his final trip and photos of Rome. This section includes a smattering of what I found in his studio in late September, 1997.

Studio circa 1996, San Miguel Allende, Mexico

Draft of gallery bio

Painting price list

Sketching on the streets of Aix en Provence

Sketch of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Reference for M. Leon







A few photos from the last visit to Rome

Reference for Roman Fountain in an unfinished painting, 1997

Unfinished painting, Roman Fountain, 1997

Letter to Emily from Mexico, circa 1990

Letter to Emily from France, 1990

Letter to Emily from France, 1990

Letter to parents from Rome, 1956

Artist’s car, Sidney, NY, circa 1974

Sketching Mayan ruins, Mexico, early 1990s

Mexico, 199?

New York, early 1960s

Painting with watercolors, unknown location

Art School, Oxford England, 1958

In uniform during the Korean War

With daughter, Emily, Sidney, NY, circa 1974

With son, Paul, New York, 1988

With daughter, Emily, Aix en Provence, France, 1991

With wife, Sylvia, early 1960s

With wife and son, 1962

With friends at a gallery, Provincetown, MA, 1996

Making a Living
Making a Living

Every summer from 1987-1997 my father convinced Ronny Hazel, proprietor of Shop Therapy – a gritty tourist shop in the heart of Provincetown – that he needed more murals on his shop. Soon the building was completely covered, with little space to spare (sometime in the last ten years Ronnie has had other artists paint over the original work on the front of the building, so not all of the work is still my father’s).

Shop Therapy Sign

Ronny In Front of Mural

Sketch Ronny Hazel Shop Therapy

Sketch for Alice Panel Shop Therapy

Shop Therapy Mural

Shop Therapy Mural

Shop Therapy Mural

Shop Therapy Mural

Robert with Ronny

Artist for Hire

Sidney & Bainbridge, NY
Sidney &
Bainbridge, NY

In 1971 my parents decided to move our family to the tiny town, Sidney (and later Bainbridge) about 3 hours west of New York City. During our six years of living in a one factory town with a bar and a church on every corner, my father painted lots of murals and portraits. I remember walking home from the town pool in the summer with my older brother, Paul, and seeing my father painting abandoned gas stations and other lonely, Hopper-esque scenes. More of these works will be featured on this site in the future.

• The photo of the man is standing in a bar my father frequented, but the scene behind him is a painting of the bar that my father did for the establishment proprietors (to pay an outstanding tab??)

• The photo of my dad in front of a painted wall is a mural he painted in our dining room in an old, creaky farm house we live in for one year.

• Newspaper clipping of an America the Beautiful grant my father received to paint a mural depicting the evolution of human life for the local public school.

*Black and white portraits of Bob Gasoi and family by Jean Cartier

Sidney Bar Painting In Back

Mural in Background

Sidney Mural


In addition to collecting my father’s effects from San Miguel in 1997, I also brought back his ashes from the American Consulate. We held a wake at the Old Homestead, Paul Van Apeldoorn’s house in Province Town. Dozens of people came and shared their memories and celebrated my father’s life and art. My father’s ashes sat in a box in my apartment for another five years. In 2002, my mother, Sylvia, my brother, Paul, and I took a trip to Rome to free my father, the Nomad, in the city of his dreams, the avenues of living history where he so longed to be. We walked around for several days, spreading small fist fulls of his ashes in various locations around town, documenting each spot immediately afterward. Finally, my father’s dear friends who he met on his first visit to Rome in 1958 and remained close with throughout his life, Silvana and Bruno Mandolesi-Ferrini, took us to their summer home outside of Rome where we buried my father’s remaining ashes under a tree in their yard.

Burying my father's ashes under a tree on Silvana and Bruno's land outside of Rome

Spreading the Ashes

Spreading the Ashes

Spreading the Ashes

Spreading the Ashes

New Acquisitions
New Acquisitions

One of the worst things about losing my father was realizing that I'd never see another new painting again. But soon after this site went up, I began receiving pictures of works I'd never seen before. It has been such an amazing gift to me and I wanted to share that with the world. Thank you so much to all of you who sent messages and pictures. Please feel free to contact me if you see a picture of a painting you sent and would like to add or correct any information to the brief descriptions I cooked up. Feel free to share this site with others who you think would enjoy it. And, of course, if you or someone you know has any artwork by my father, please consider taking a picture and sending it along to It means a lot to me and to Bob Gasoi fans everywhere!

From the collection of Marvin Gasoi
These four pictures were sent by one of father’s Canadian cousins, Marvin Gasoi. Marvin is also a visual artist whose photography and multimedia work has appeared in the National Gallery of Canada and the Visual Studies Workshop, among other prestigious institutions. Apparently my grandfather, Lawrence Gasoi, stopped off in Montreal before he settled in New York City, while most of the Gasoi clan--Marvin’s family included-- remained in Canada. Marvin says he has fond boyhood memories of watching my father as a very young man painting and drawing during a few visits he paid to his family home. He even believes these visits from my father influenced his own desire to become an artist.

In three of the four pieces Marvin inherited from his grandparents (my dad’s aunt and uncle), you can see the beginnings of his penchant for fantasy and whimsy (see Fallen Giant and Fairy), as well as his interest in classical subjects (see Country Scene). What’s interesting to note about these three paintings is that they are all referential, either of storybook illustrations (e.g. Gulliver’s Travels, Peter Pan) or of scenes he probably gleaned from other artists’ work. The fourth piece, a watercolor landscape, seems to be a study of a view, perhaps from the window of his aunt and uncle’s country house where Marvin says the painting hung for many years. It is also the only one that has a date, 1957, which means it would have been done when my father had just returned from his studies at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford and from his first stay in Rome. My guess is that the other three paintings were done much earlier than this last one, before my father left for the Korean war in 1951 and then attended art school on the GI Bill.

Country Scene

Fallen Giant



From the collection of Joanne Abrahams
My cousin Joanne has inherited several works from her father (my dad's brother) and from our grandparents (my dad’s parents). These works seem to span decades and, unfortunately, only one bears a date. The painting “Icheon & the compound Jan 54" was in my grandparents' home along with "Oxford" and "Italy" making Joanne and me believe that these were all done roughly between 1954-1957 during his time abroad. It's funny to think that these paintings were actually hanging in my grandparents' apartment when I was a kid, I probably passed by them many times. But they died when I was still young, so these are new to me now. The other paintings are from Joanne and her father’s collections which they acquired over many years. The only painting that provides any clue as to an approximate date is "Mexico" since my father didn’t make his first pilgrimage to Mexico until the early 1990s. The others look older to me, especially the mysterious looking "Island" which bears a resemblance to Icheon…and therefore may have been done when he was abroad.





Lunchon & The Compound



Portrait of a "Crazy Freddy"
My father's old friend Rick Elliott, from Sidney, NY (we lived there 1971-1976) sent me pictures of this painting. There is a story to go with it, but I am waiting to hear back from Rick to get the details. More to follow!

Crazy Freddy

Provincetown Legacy: Self-portrait
I have received or found several pictures on-line of my father's work that still resides in homes, store fronts, and alleys in Provincetown, MA. For example, a friend of my father's named Paulette Emond sent me a picture of a removable 87" x 66" mural that my father painted on their home in Provincetown in 1984. I found this one especially exciting because it includes a self-portrait. Always a plus!

Self Portrait Mural From Paulette

Provincetown Shop Therapy Memorial
As many Bob Gasoi friends and fans know, he spent over ten years painting murals on boards that would eventually cover three sides of the building that housed Shop Therapy in the heart of Provincetown's commercial district. Owner, Ronny Hazel, has since replaced many of my father's panels with other artwork, but he created a memorial for my father along the side of the building. I have found several pictures (including one slide show) and a post from Ronny on the Shop Therapy Face Book page documenting the memorial.

Shop Therapy Memorial Wall

Shop Therapy Memorial Wall

Shop Therapy Self Portrait

Provincetown Paintings MIA
In my on-line searches for my father's work, I came across two paintings I had never seen before. One features a few facades of Provincetown establishments. I found it on the AskArt website and it appears that this piece has been auctioned off, though I unfortunately can't tell by or to whom. I found the other painting included on the Provincetown Historical Preservation website. Its title, "Off With Her Head," is influenced by Alice in Wonderland illustrator, Sir John Tenniel. I don’t know if this painting is actually on display somewhere in Provincetown. If someone knows, please let me know!

Auctioned Painting

Off With Her Head

Portrait by Louise Higgins
This is the only painting on this page that is done by another artist besides my father. When we lived in Sidney, NY my dad befriended fellow artist, Louise Higgins. All I knew about Louise at the time was that she was considerably older than my parents (she had what 5-year-old-me considered "old lady hair") and that her daughter babysat my brother and me. One day last year I received a medium-sized package in the mail from one of my father's oldest friends, another fellow artist, Denis Stahl. When I opened it up, I found this impressive portrait of my father's floating head looking almost biblical. I had never seen this portrait and didn’t know it existed, so I was very, pleasantly surprised to receive it. It's especially interesting to see my father as a young-ish man (he must have been in his early-40s when this was done) through the eyes of another artist. Thank you Denis!

Louise Higgins Portrait

Thank you for visiting Robert Gasoi's site. I hope you enjoyed viewing his work and reading about his life. Please contact me at if you have any comments, feedback, or questions. If you happen to be the lucky proprietor of a Robert Gasoi original, please send along images so I can add them to this online gallery.