This first critical study of the American artist Edward Boccia (active 1942-2012) will contribute to contemporary art history through the study of an under-recognized figure, situating his place in the history of modernist figurative painting & the field of Italian American fine arts, a significantly under researched area of art history.
This is the first monographic book about this important artist. The book will present previously unpublished full color illustrations of all of the painter’s magnum opus: a series of 22 large scale multi-paneled paintings that resemble the traditional altarpiece format but extend iconographically & stylistically into contemporary language & style. Many of these paintings are privately-owned & or in public collections but are rarely on view because of their size. The chapters will trace the evolution of Boccia’s work & offer thematic discussions of the artist’s place in the history of American modernism, his contemporary altarpieces as expressions of modern religiosity, the legacy of Expressionism as displayed & challenged in his work, & the importance of abstraction in the artist’s practice.
Using a selection of previously unpublished original sources, including artist sketchbooks, dream journals & Boccia’s writing on the role of art in the contemporary life, this book situates the artist in the larger critical discussion of style & practice in mid to late twentieth & early 21st century America, & offers new scholarship on the contributions of the artist while expanding on the critical analysis of the contributions of Italian American visual artists to post war culture.
Developed through thematic chapters outlined below, art historian Rosa JH Berland will examine the complex iconography of the artist’s work while placing Boccia’s practice within the legacy of the mid-century artistic expatriate & American art community at Washington University & in St. Louis. This vibrant & significant community included key figures in post war American art such as art historians & faculty members H.W. Janson & Ken Hudson, painters Max Beckmann, Stephen Greene, & Philip Guston, & the collectors Morton May & Joseph Pulitzer. Boccia was one of May’s most collected contemporary artists, & his recruitment by Hudson followed that of Guston & Beckmann. The development of Boccia’s contemporary practice will be traced & analyzed in this context.
Thank you to the donors who have already contributed. This innovative book is only possible through the patronage of our friends, family and colleagues. Please visit our donation page at Fractured Atlas, donations are tax deductible as per IRS regulations.