Robert Mueller, who died Jan. 18 at age 91, was a polymath in the truest sense of the word. He was a scientist, engineer, inventor, and technical writer, as well as a poet, musician, puppet maker, and prolific artist who, in 2014, donated 1,500 pieces of his life’s work to Monmouth University.
Mueller’s creativity was evident early on: By 13, he had written several science fiction stories. He later served in the U.S. Navy and earned degrees in electrical engineering from MIT and aesthetics from NYU, yet he never stopped creating art. He worked in various mediums, specializing in woodcuts and abstract oil paintings. His ability to combine science and art led him to develop his own painting style, which he called “mathematico-abstract.” His works were featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Pushkin Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among other places.
For Mueller, art provided a way to express his feelings about the world, says friend and political science professor Saliba Sarsar ’78. “His work was a response to the inhumanity caused by war, racial injustice, and so many other events and behaviors that deform our world,” says Sarsar. “He wanted to reform it, and transform it into something much more beautiful.”
Monmouth University is incredibly fortunate to possess such an extensive, diverse collection of Mueller’s artwork, which will continue to serve as a source of inspiration for students and faculty from all disciplines, says Sarsar.
“Something Bob said, which has stayed with me, was, ‘Creativity is a young person’s gift and an adult’s duty,” says Sarsar. “He practiced what he preached.”
TOP: Robert Emmett Mueller pictured in the 1960s. Photo courtesy of Andy Mueller-Lust.