Robert Natkin was born in 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. Natkin grew up in an extended Russian-Jewish immigrant family. In 1948, he began studies at the Art School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was strongly influenced by the Post-Impressionists and Abstract Expressionism, the latter through an article in Life magazine. In 1952, he lived, briefly, in New York where he was influenced by Willem de Kooning.
In 1953, Natkin returned to Chicago and began exhibiting his work. He became closely associated with other Chicago artists such as Stanley Sourelis, Ronald Slowinski, Richard Bogart and Judith Dolnick. In 1957, Natkin married artist, Judith Dolnick, six weeks after they met. In 1959, they moved to New York, where he began exhibiting his work at the Poindexter Gallery. In 1960, he was included in the “Young America” exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He was appointed as Artist-in-Residence at the Kalamazoo Arts Center in 1964 and, in 1969, he participated in a retrospective solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art.
In 1975, Natkin executed a commission for a giant mural at the Baxter Laboratories Corporate Headquarters in Chicago. In 1976, a retrospective exhibition of Natkin’s work was held at the Moore College of Art Gallery in Philadelphia. During the 1990’s, he lectured at Tate Gallery in London and Maryland Institute at the College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2000, Natkin produced monotypes at Bradley University.
Robert Natkin passed away in 2010 in Danbury, Connecticut.