About The Artist

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Edward E. Boccia (1921-2012) was an Italian-American artist active from ca. WW II-2012. Born to Italian parents in Newark Jersey,  Boccia attended the Newark School of Fine Arts. He studied at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League, New York, where he met his wife Madeleine Wysong. Boccia served in World War II, in the covert 603rd Camouflage engineer unit known today as the Ghost Army. He continued to paint and draw during his time overseas, sending his artwork home. After the war, Boccia earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree at Columbia University, concurrently serving as Dean and teaching art at the Columbus Art School in Ohio, where he introduced the Bauhaus teaching method to his students.

In 1951, he was appointed Assistant Dean of Fine Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he taught painting for over 30 years, until his retirement in 1986.

 

Boccia was regarded as not only technically gifted, but also singularly independent and deeply dedicated to his craft. Called a Neo-Expressionist, the modern Neo-Renaissance painter and even a Magical Realist, Boccia’s practice was informed by the great masters as well as the work of 20th century modernists such as Max Beckmann and Oskar Kokoschka.

What makes Boccia unique, however is his creation of a unique pictorial language that synthesized the mid to late 20th century experience with motifs and themes from Catholicism, literary criticism, the politics of anti-materialism and the importance of craft. In addition to teaching, the artist spent countless solitary hours working on his large-scale triptych panel paintings, seeking neither official approval or an end to his exploration and experimentation, the artist painted into his eighties. A favorite artist of the important American art collector, Morton D. May, Boccia’s art is owned by over 600 private collectors and within the public collections of national museums and institutions such as the National Painting Gallery of Greece, Athens, The Mildred Lane Kemper Museum of Art, St. Louis, The St. Louis University Museum of Art and many others.



 

Boccia’s Art on View at Missouri S+T

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Edward-Boccia, Ed-Boccia, Boccia, Art, Painting, Expressionism, WashingtonUniversityStLouis, St-Louis, Neo-Expressionist, Italian-American, American-Art, Missouri

We are delighted to see Edward Boccia’s artwork featured in this recent story Art Around Campus at Missouri Science + Technology  from Missouri Science & Technology…..such a wonderful collection…

Edward-Boccia, Modern-Art, Post-War-Art, Contemporary-Art, Painting, Italian-American

Photo courtesy of Sam O’Keefe, Missouri S&T

Boccia’s large-scale triptych from 1978 The Sacrosanct hangs on view at the campus. This painted was donated to the university by Morton May, the widely admired fine art collector and philanthropist  -and one of Boccia’s most ardent collectors.

 

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Painting Pictured Above Edward E. Boccia Vivaldi


All Rights Reserved, The Edward E. Boccia and Madeleine J. Boccia Art Trust.

Washington U. professor Edward Boccia left legacy of images -St Louis Post Dispatch

 

By Calvin Wilson, Post Dispatch February 16, 2013

Edward Boccia described his art as dealing with “love, lust and life,” and anyone who has stepped back and taken in his creations would be hard put to disagree. With a vividness that reflects the influence of artists from Max Beckmann to Paul Cézanne while adhering to a unique sensibility, Boccia’s paintings and drawings just about reach out and pull the viewer inside them.

For many years a professor at Washington University’s School of Fine Arts, Boccia died last September at his home in Webster Groves. Boccia was 91, and he had seen a lot, including action as a soldier in World War II. And he transformed quite a bit of what he saw into a legacy of countless images.

Boccia’s work, which attracted the backing of nationally renowned art collector Morton D. “Buster” May, is the subject of two exhibitions: “Edward Boccia: Figurative Expressionist,” through March 3 at the St. Louis University Museum of Art, and “Edward Boccia: Early Work,” opening Friday at the Sheldon Art Galleries.

edward-boccia-the-encounter-1979 Edward E. Boccia The Encounter, 1979

“He created his own world through his art,” said Petruta Lipan, director of SLUMA. “And his world is very complicated and multilayered.

“You look at his artworks, and you think you know what you’re looking at. But the more you look at it, the deeper and deeper it gets, because he mixes mythology and religion and literary themes within one work. And that’s what makes his work so interesting.”

Philanthropist May (of the May Department Stores, which owned the Famous-Barr chain) was an important figure in getting out the word about Boccia, said the artist’s daughter, Alice Boccia, who is an archeological conservationist.

“He was a huge art collector here in St. Louis, and every year he would come over to the house and look at all the work Dad had done for the past 12 months,” said Boccia, who now lives in Los Angeles. “From, say, 1952 until he passed away in 1983.”

May purchased hundreds of Boccia’s works, keeping them for his collection or giving them to museums, universities and acquaintances.

The exhibition at SLUMA focuses on Boccia’s large-scale paintings, including triptychs (three-panel paintings). The works are displayed with just enough room for spectators to stand back and ponder their meanings. Particularly striking are “Low Tide” (1983), which depicts a bearded man reading a book while impaled on what appear to be sticks rising out of the water, and “The Absolved” (1984), a portrait of a male and a female who have fish heads but human genitalia.

In contrast, “Edward Boccia: Early Work” is more intimate in scope. Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, director of the Sheldon Art Galleries, said the exhibition — which focuses on drawings and paintings made between 1941 and 1969 — sheds light on a different side of Boccia’s artistry.

“It gives people another view of what he was like as an artist, and his interests,” she said. Among the pieces are “drawings that he made during World War II, or right at the end of World War II, of fellow soldiers and people that he met in France and other places.

“You can see the influence of the Old Masters in his work,” Lahs-Gonzales said. “Also, people like Van Gogh.”

Boccia was born in Newark and studied art at Pratt Institute in New York (where he met his future wife, Madeleine Wysong). He is estimated to have created 4,000 paintings, and his work is included in more than 600 private collections, as well as being part of the permanent collections of SLUMA, the St. Louis Art Museum, Washington University’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the Denver Art Museum and the National Pinakothek in Athens.

It was through May that Boccia became familiar with the work of Beckmann, a German expressionist painter who taught at Washington University in the 1940s, and who had his first U.S. retrospective in St. Louis in 1948.But whereas Beckmann merely passed through St. Louis, Boccia – who came to Washington University in 1951 as an assistant dean – spent most of his life here.

“I can look at his work for years, and I still find something new,” Lipan said.


‘Edward Boccia: Early Work’

When • Friday through May 18. Opening reception is from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday; galleries open until 8 p.m. Regular hours are noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and beginning an hour before performances and during intermission.

Where • Sheldon Art Galleries, Nancy Spirtas Kranzberg Gallery, 3648 Washington Boulevard

How much • Free

More info • 314-533-9900; thesheldon.org

‘Edward Boccia: Figurative Expressionist’

When • 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; through March 3

Where • St. Louis University Museum of Art, Aronson Gallery, 3663 Lindell Boulevard

How much • Free

More info • 314-977-2666; slu.edu/sluma.xml


All Rights Reserved, The Edward E. Boccia and Madeleine J. Boccia Art Trust.

Recent Publication about Modernist Painting and Boccia

Recent article on Boccia and his links to modernist mid century artistic practice and critical reception.“Cezanne’s Apple and Edward E. Boccia Hierarchy, Revolt and Artistic Innovation in 20th-Century America.” by Rosa JH Berland, Ekphrasis (2067-631X) . 2015, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p118-141. 24p

The reconstruction of the twenty-first-century imagination (ideologies that shape our “imagined world”) and aesthetic view through the “authentic” modes of abstraction, conceptualism, and the lens of media and digital technology has led to a new way of understanding and experiencing creativity. While these are certainly new or original critical experiences, there are other types of creativity, ideologies and imaginary worlds that are quite separate, and sometimes polemically opposed to this genre of making and looking. An example of this type of creative visualization and boycotting of the supposedly authentic gesture is the work of the late American artist Edward E. Boccia, who devoted much of his life to a series of panel paintings that take as their subject problems of politics and society, as well as religious experience in the twentieth century. Made between 1956 -2006, the large scale altarpieces represent the phenomenon of figural creativity produced in traditional studio mediums in mid- to late twentieth-century America.

For access to this entire article, please check with your college/university library, local public library, or affiliated institution.

Copyright of Ekphrasis (2067-631X) is the property of Babes-Bolyai-University, Faculty of Theatre & Television.

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