Robert C. (Bob) Bassler, renowned sculptor-painter-photographer and CSUN Professor Emeritus of Art, died in summer 2022 at age 86. He was a prolific artist who taught sculpture and three-dimensional design at San Fernando State College/CSUN from 1964 until his retirement in 1997, having begun his university teaching career at Occidental College.
Born in New York City in 1935, Bassler was the son of film and television producer Robert S. Bassler and Joan Covey Bassler. His career trajectory was launched when a Beverly Hills High School art teacher recommended him for an advanced figure drawing summer workshop at Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts). He went on to earn his BA in Art at Bard College and his MFA at the University of Southern California.
Initially working in painting and drawing, Bob discovered sculpture at Bard. Summers at Lake Arrowhead and involvement with the Boy Scouts during his formative years fostered the love and appreciation of nature that greatly informed his art. Early work in the 60s in wood and metal emphasized constructivist methods. This early abstract work evolved into the “Anatome” series, organic-biomorphic forms, at first utilizing wood, then using cast transparent polyester resin, which led to an artist residency at Caltech. Later works explored fractals and moiré effects through large-scale pyramidal welded steel sculptures.
While it’s impossible to express the breadth of his accomplishments during his CSUN tenure, his most lasting legacy may be his essential role in combining four disparate art departments into one unified Department of Art following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The earthquake would prompt yet another heroic effort by Bassler. Having founded CSUN Sculpture Park Associates back in 1982 to promote and gain recognition for public art projects on the campus, Bassler would four decades later lead the drive to reinstall Jan Peter Stern’s “Steel Sculpture Group” on campus after its long dormancy following the loss of CSUN’s Fine Arts Building in the 1994 disaster. Of Bassler's enormous contributions to CSUN, Dean Dan Hosken says, “I wasn’t fortunate enough to know Bob while he was still teaching, but I was fortunate to get to know him as an active supporter of the college, an advocate for public art, and a generous donor along with Lynn to student scholarships in Art. I will miss his joyful spirit and boundless creativity, but he has left a wonderful legacy of art and meaning at CSUN that lives on.”
After retiring, Bassler pursued oil painting using his nature photography and experiences from his travels for inspiration. CSUN’s University Art Collection is fortunate to have several pieces of his work. Beyond his art, Bassler gave back to the University in so many ways, joining the Mike Curb College Dean’s Circle Executive Board at the invitation of the Dean. His institutional memory was invaluable, and his leadership and advice will be greatly missed.
Bob Bassler at work on Isle of Springs
Bob is survived by his wife Lynn, an artist he met while teaching at Occidental College. The couple enjoyed 58 years of marriage and presented their artwork in joint exhibitions a few times over the years. Their Northridge home, which was designed in cooperation with architect Craig Townsend and won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award in 2002, incorporated separate studio spaces for each artist to create and express their ideas. Lynn and Bob have generously supported the Special Exhibitions Fund benefitting the CSUN Art Galleries and the Bob and Lynn Bassler Scholarship Fund supporting art students.
For more information on Bassler’s art, please visit www.robertbasslerart.net
If you would like to make a gift in memory of Bob, please consider the following options:
CSUN Art Galleries Fund | Bob and Lynn Bassler Scholarship Endowment