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Anthony Palumbo and Michael Pellettieri Retrospectives at The Art Students League of New York
The Art Students League of New York is celebrating the talents and dedication of two of its teachers with concurrent retrospectives during November 2002. Anthony Palumbo and Michael Pellettieri, who have taught generations of burgeoning painters and printmakers at the school, have their work displayed in the second-floor gallery of the League's historic building at 215 West 57th Street. A reception for the artists, their friends and students will be held in the gallery on November 12 from 6 to 8 PM. (left: Anthony Palumbo, Fisherman Under Attack, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 40 inches)
The exhibitions survey two very different bodies of work. Palumbo, who spent his early childhood in Italy, recalls vividly the experiences that stayed with him and influenced his paintings. The mystery and power of the Church, conveyed both through art and dramatic, colorful processions, inspired his own impulse to tell stories visually. Palumbo also cites the shocking posters advertising pulp fiction from horse-drawn wagons, commonplace in southern Italy of the 1920s. Finally, he acknowledges the impact of his grandfather's cavernous workshop where workers appeared dwarf-like as they assembled wine barrels that seemed like "giant rib cages."
The artist's family arrived in the United States in 1929. Palumbo was nine, old enough to sense the emotion in Depression-era headlines proclaiming uncertainty, panic and despair. Artists such as Thomas Hart Benton and Reginald Marsh, whose work reflected the heroic struggles of the common man, impressed him. He took art classes and served as an apprentice on mural projects with W.P.A. artists, many of them affiliated with the League, where he met many well-known artists. During World War II he served as a radio technician and also produced numerous cartoons of GI life for Army-based publications.
After the war, Palumbo enrolled both at the League and the New School for Social Research, studying with Reginald Marsh, Julian Levi, Gregorio Prestopino, Stuart Davis, Antonio Frasconi and others. Separately, he worked with Hans Hofmann and Burne Hogarth. Freelance illustration and cartooning for The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Collier's magazine sustained him as he developed his art. During the 1950s he traveled to Mexico, working with Rico LeBrun and assisting Rufino Tamayo on a mural there. Back in New York, he established a studio on Fourteenth Street and began a productive period of teaching and painting. His paintings were included in exhibitions, including the Whitney Museum's annual presentation of contemporary work in 1960.
Soon after, a catastrophic studio fire brought Palumbo's momentum to a halt. He describes the ensuing years as filled with struggle and renewal. Recovery allowed for experimentation and growth, and the figure began to dominate his work. His paintings were exhibited and acquired by collectors, and he continued to find inspiration in his teaching activities at the League. The retrospective offers a window not only on Palumbo's artistic development but on the resilience of the creative spirit.
Anthony Palumbo's Artist Statement from the exhibition brochure reads:
Painter and printmaker Michael Pellettieri grew up in New York, which emerges regularly in his artistic output, from apartment buildings under snow to elevated roadways arcing into space. As the senior member of the League's graphics studios, Peliettieri represents a lineage of printmakers including his instructor Harry Sternberg, who educated generations of graphic artists beginning in the 1930s. Peliettieri also studied with Edwin Dickinson, Robert Beverly Hale, Joseph Hirsch and Thomas Fogarty at the League in the 1960s. At the same time, he earned a BA in fine art at the College of the City of New York and later an MA from Hunter College. (left: Michael Pellettieri, Stranded Vessels #V, 1989, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches)
In 1969, Pellettieri became the Master Printer at the League, printing work for students of Sternberg and other noted artist instructors such as Seong Moy. In the same year, a State Department grant allowed him to travel and study in India. Eventually he became a full-fledged instructor, teaching drawing and painting as well as printmaking, a position he has held since 1977. He also teaches at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Pellettieri's work has been acquired for the collections at the New York Public Library, Newark Art Library, the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina, the De Cordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts and other institutions. It has been featured in exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York, the National Institute and Academy of Arts and Letters, Seaton Hall University, the New York Historical Society and other venues. Among his recent honors are the Burr Miller Award and the Robert Conover Award. Paintings as well as prints will make up his retrospective in the League gallery.
Michael Pellettieri's Artist Statement from the exhibition brochure reads:
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