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Robert Huot was born in Staten Island, New York, in 1935. Huot's involvement with painting began in the mid-1950s when he was a student majoring in chemistry at Wagner College on Staten Island. As a result of the influence of Wagner's teacher and artist, Tom Young, Huot, still a teenager, found his way to the Cedar Bar on University Place off 8th Street in New York, where a vital art scene had developed around abstract expressionism. 

Huot hung out with Franz Kline and other influential artists. After graduation from Wagner, and a two-year stint in the army (1958-1960), Huot moved to Manhattan, where he supported himself by working as a pigment chemist and studied for a time at Hunter College with Fritz Bultman and George Sugarman. By 1964, he had several significant solo shows, first at Stephan Radich Gallery and subsequently at Paula Cooper, as well as in West Germany and Switzerland.