Walter Robinson was born in 1950 in Wilmington, DE. He grew up in Tulsa, OK, and moved to New York City to attend college at Columbia University. In 1973 he co-founded Art-Rite magazine, which featured covers designed by artists and was distributed free of charge in New York galleries. At the same time, he began working at Art in America magazine, where he compiled its monthly art newsletter and later became the magazine’s News Editor. In the late 1970s, Robinson began painting the pulp romance imagery he is known for, showing his work in exhibitions organized by Collaborative Projects, the artist collective that put on the Times Square Show in 1980. He also began exhibiting his paintings with Metro Pictures, and had his first solo show at the gallery in 1982. In addition, he exhibited at several East Village galleries during the short-lived East Village art scene of the early 1980s, and served as Art Editor of the East Village Eye. After 1986 Robinson partially withdrew from exhibiting, and focused instead on art criticism and his duties as a single parent. In the 1990s he was the correspondent for the weekly cable television show Art TV Gallery Beat, and in 1996 he became the Founding Editor of Artnet magazine, a post he held until 2012. He subsequently became a columnist for the website Artspace, where he introduced the notion of “Zombie Formalism.” 

In 2017, Vito Schnabel Gallery presented an exhibition of Robinson’s Romance paintings on bed sheets, titled The Americans. The show featured three works from the 1980s alongside a group of new paintings. Robinson lives and works in New York.