He attended the Pratt Institute and the National Academy of Design in New York, and the Academie Julien in Paris. His first jobs were as a muralist, and in 1938-39 created works for the Oregon State Capitol, the New York and San Francisco World’s Fairs, and the La Guardia Airport. He also worked as Art Director for New York’s Lexicon Advertising Agency and for Fawcett Publications.
During World War II, he served as a Captain with the Army Evacuation Hospitals in England, France and Germany. In 1943, he was married to Ruth Leger, of Murray Hill, New York, his high school sweetheart.
Robert Sivard continued to work in the commercial art field in New York City until 1948 when he accepted the job of Consulting Art Director for the International Refugee Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. The Sivards soon moved to Paris, France where Bob free-lanced for French advertising agencies and designed exhibits for trade organizations.
From 1950-1954 he served as Chief of the Visual Information Service for the US embassy in Paris. Bob’s first solo exhibit of fine art at the Craven Gallery in Paris in 1953 was hugely successful and generated international reviews. He had another popular show at the American Embassy in Paris in 1954.
In 1955 the Sivards returned to the US, relocating in Washington DC where Mrs. Sivard accepted a position as an economic analyst for the US State Department. Time Magazine featured Bob’s Paris paintings in articles with color reproductions in 1955 and again in 1963. He had an exclusive arrangement with the Midtown Galleries of New York throughout most of his career in fine art.
Bob was appointed Exhibits Director for the US Information Agency and continued his work in fine art, creating paintings which echoed his visual experiences in Paris and elsewhere in Europe.
He traveled widely in conjunction with his government job, painting locales in Yugoslavia, Portugal and Moscow, where he directed the American National Exhibition in 1959. This exhibit of US culture and productivity covered ten acres and was immensely popular with the Russians, who waited in line for hours to see examples of American art and fashion. It was the first major cultural exchange during the Cold War.
Through his social and professional contacts in Washington he met and created portraits of Julia Child, the culinary author and TV personality, Art Buchwald, the humorist, and Frank Stanton, the director of CBS. He was also commissioned to produce several covers for the Foreign Service Journal, and was featured in the Smithsonian Magazine, Horizon, L’Illustration, and other periodicals.
In 1959, the Postmaster General commissioned Sivard to design the ‘American Woman’ stamp.
Robert Sivard’s shows often had interesting themes such as the 1980 ‘Historic Washington’ series in which carefully researched locales of the 19th century Federal City are portrayed, often with well-known personalities of that era. The Smithsonian Institute selected one of these paintings, The BeltLine Trolley, as a Christmas card to be sent to their donors and associates.
Other successful shows were the 1977 ‘Artists and Writers in Paris’ and the 1980-84 ‘Artists in Their Studios’ in which masters such as Matisse, Gaugin, Picasso, Man Ray and Magritte were portrayed with their famous creations. The paintings which Sivard produced during this prolific period were meticulously crafted. They sold quickly.
Bob's last commision produced the innovative and entertaining designs which appeared on the covers of the 1989 Mobil regional travel guides.
Drawing upon his background in commercial art and exhibit design, Bob also contributed significantly to the production and design of Mrs. Sivard's internationally acclaimed series of books, World Military and Social Expenditures, from 1974 through 1989.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Best in Show, 1956
Thomas B. Clark Prize for Interior Design, 1958 (National Academy of Design)
Federal Design Council (Honorary Member), 1974
Gallerie Craven, Paris
American Embassy, Paris
Art Alliance, Philadelphia
Butler Institute International
Springfield Museum, University of Nebraska
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Jane Haslem Gallery
The Springfield Museum
Mary Washington College
The Herron Museum
Margaret Thompson Biddle
General and Mrs. Lucius B. Clay
Ransom Center at the University of Texas
Musée des Arts Naïfs et Populaires de Noyers sur Serein
Mr. and Mrs. John Rathgeber
Edward B. Marks