A Poem in memory of the artist by Alvin Horst….

Edward-Boccia, American-Art, American-Painting, Painting, American-Painters, Modern-Art, Contemporary Art, Ed-Boccia, St-Louis-Artist, WUSTL

September 13, 2012

 

Alvin Horst’s Poem

Rosecrans Baldwin’s Great Article + Interview with Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles about The Ghost Army, Morning News

APR 20, 2015

The Ghost Army of World War II, a new book by Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles, tells the story of a top-secret unit that waged war with fakery. Inflatable tanks, sound effects, and other tricks were the tools of someday luminaries like Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, and Art Kane.

 

The Morning News:You grew up hearing about the “Ghost Army” from your father, William Sayles. What’s your appreciation of those stories like now that you co-authored this book?

Elizabeth Sayles:My father told us very entertaining stories of his time in the war, which contrasted sharply with what some of my friends’ dads had been through. His stories focused on how they would inflate the tanks at night, or how they would impersonate other army divisions. Or how Bill Blass re-sewed his uniform so it fit better. But after working with Rick [Beyer] on this book, and other projects, I see how dangerous their missions really were, and also how effective. So I am very proud of what they did.

I’m not sure they actually realized the scope of some of their deceptions. For example, they were just told to “set up dummy tanks here,” or “drive around town over there and pretend to be 6th Armored division.” But they weren’t necessarily told what the big picture was. My father actually learned a lot from watching the Ghost Army documentary and reading the book.

TMN:In your research, were there stories you hadn’t heard before, that really surprised you?

ES:There was so much I learned through working with Rick on this project. Rick had contacted my father in the late ’90s to interview him for the Ghost Army documentary. I hadn’t thought about those war stories in years, but I got interested in them again. Eventually Rick and I joined forces to mount a couple of art exhibits of the original artwork of the men of the Ghost Army. And then we collaborated on this book.

Most of the logistics and operations I had no idea about, but what was the most surprising to me was how much time they spent on the front line. I had no idea that they were right where the fighting was going on. They carried out several missions inside Germany, sometimes very close to Panzer divisions. They barely escaped the Battle of the Bulge, spent freezing nights sleeping in the cold in Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg. And they were even shelled. My father had never told us any of that.

TMN:The tricks the unit pulled off weren’t just inventive, but effective as military maneuvers. Did you father and his colleagues see themselves as artists first? As soldiers?

ES:I think they always thought of themselves as artists first. The Army’s rules and bureaucracy were a source of frustration for most of them. Many of the ideas for the deceptions came from the men themselves.

TMN:Lots of the maneuvers were highly innovative.

ES:They innovated as they went along. They decided at one point to set up a fake headquarters, with fake MPs and even a fake general (which was definitely against Army rules). But it all had to be done perfectly and with precision, because the Germans were hard to fool and the consequences would have been dire if they’d been found out. But they never were.

TMN:For a long time, the Ghost Army’s achievements were classified information. How did your father adapt to civilian life? Was it difficult to carry the secret?

ES:My father was very happy to come back and resume civilian life. I think they all were. They were eager to restart their lives, begin their careers, and get on with it. I’m not sure he knew that it was supposed to be secret because he told us about it when we were kids!

TMN:Talk about the art produced by the group. It has the feel of close reporting, almost journalism, in the way that artists used to trail armies and work for the newspapers. There’s also the intimacy of the men being among one another, as both artists and soldiers, sharing this harrowing experience.

ES:The artists who were sent to the front by magazines and newspapers had only one job, and that was to document the war in paintings.

The artists of the Ghost Army, however, drew and painted in their down time in order to keep their sanity, and also because they were just in the habit of drawing all the time. I think for most they weren’t solely interested in documenting the war, they just drew what was there. They drew the shattered villages they passed through, and the people, and each other.

The artwork is amazing for how accomplished it is considering how young most of them were. Many of them were in art school at the time they enlisted, and they just carried their studies into Europe. They practiced drawing and they learned from each other. Ned Harris, who was 18 when he enlisted, learned how to use watercolors from Arthur Singer, who was already a working illustrator. He swears he learned more in the Army than at school. It’s interesting to see how several men would paint the same scene, but in different styles, and how some of their styles began merging.

In art school they were studying the theories of the German Bauhaus, and of course all the painters of Europe. The idea that they now found themselves at the center of the art world was actually very exciting to them, despite the fact that it was a war zone and they were sent there with fake weapons!

TMN:That’s amazing.

ES:My father was excited to go. It was the only way he would ever get to Europe because he had no money. When they got to Paris, of course all the museums were closed, but they could still experience the city that has such a rich artistic legacy. They even visited the brothels so they could draw nudes, ala Toulouse-Lautrec.

And they saved their work. They carried it across Europe with them, sometimes shipped it home or traded it with each other. It has been interesting tracking the work down. And it’s exciting that we keep finding new pieces.

TMN:The variety of the men’s backgrounds, including all these significant artists, is striking. Did the group maintain connections over the years?

ES:The Ghost Army was an interesting mix of artists from the Northeast and a large contingent of coal miners and mechanics from the South.

After the war many of the art students went back and finished their degrees and became a network for each other as they began their careers. My father and Arthur Shilstone had a design studio together in New York in the ’50s. Bill Blass, Jack Masey, my father, and others all kept in touch for awhile. Ned Harris and my father are neighbors and remain friendly to this day.

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.

Authentication of Artwork

All buyers of artwork of any medium by Edward Boccia (Ed Boccia, Edward Eugene Boccia, E. Boccia) should be aware that as of 2017, any work offered for sale or purchase on the secondary market is not considered authentic unless the trust has certified in writing the provenance and authenticity.

Please note that the trust is the sole authenticator of any artwork by Edward E. Boccia.  

WE DO NOT PROVIDE MARKET VALUES OR APPRAISALS.

 

 

1. You may request documentation + confirmation from the seller who may have already obtained certification.

 

2. In an effort to maintain transparency, we welcome inquiries from art collectors, dealers, galleries, auction houses, + museums. We are happy to provide information +  authentication as appropriate. For past sales, please also feel welcome to be in touch.

 

3. We will also confirm titles, dates and other information +as part of our effort to maintain ethical transparency + accuracy, we do not charge for this service.

 

The artist kept meticulous records + we are delighted to assist you with your collection research, sale, cataloging, and or your purchase.


 

 

authentication, art-authentication, ed-boccia, Edward-Boccia, Artist Trust, Boccia

Rosalind Early’s 2011 Interview with the Late American Artist Edward E Boccia

Edward-Boccia, American-Art, American-Painting, Painting, American-Painters, Modern-Art, Contemporary Art, Ed-Boccia, St-Louis-Artist, WUSTL

Edward Boccia Remembered

By

In the magazine world, there are a lot of aborted articles. In 2011, on a rainy September afternoon, I went to artist and poet Edward Boccia’s house to interview him for an article that would never make it into St. Louis Magazine. Not sure what to do with the interview, I transcribed it and waited, since he’d told me SLU planned to do a retrospective in 2013. Unfortunately, Boccia died in September 2012. He was 91.

January 18, 2013


REPOSTED FROM THE ST LOUIS MAGAZINE -ARTICLE BY ROSALIND EARLY

St Louis Modern -Murals via SLAM

stl-Modern-front-cover-only.jpg

From the St. Louis Modern catalogue- St. Louis’s Modern Murals

October 1, 2015

St. Louis Modern is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring a comprehensive essays on architecture and design in St. Louis that expand on themes explored in the exhibition, including in-depth examinations of the city’s embrace of modern aesthetics in sculpture, silver, stained glass, murals, and textiles.

In the excerpt below, exhibition co-curator Genevieve Cortinovis explores the history of modern mural painting in St. Louis.

In a 1932 exhibition featuring the work of forty-nine American muralists exploring “post-war subjects,” The Museum of Modern Art asked an essential question: “Who is to do the murals of the nation’s great buildings?”(1) In the years that followed, modern artists answered the call, actively utilizing a medium that had been previously dominated by academic painters. Whether in cafés and corporate lobbies or post offices and medical clinics, murals imbued modern, often austere architectural settings with color, dynamism, and a sense of historic and aesthetic continuity, while exposing the larger public to a variety of contemporary styles and ideas. Spurred by the fervent support of the medium by the Depression-era Federal Arts Project as well as at the World’s Fairs in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York in the 1930s, the vogue for mural painting reached its peak in St. Louis in the decades surrounding World War II. The founding myths, idyllic local landscapes, and heroic figures that dominated murals at the turn of the century—such as Frederick Lincoln Stoddard’s panels celebrating the Louisiana Purchase for the mayor’s office (1898), Frederick Oakes Sylvester’s idealized vista of the Mississippi River and bluffs for the Noonday Club (1911), and Edmund Wuerpel’s summer landscape for the Missouri Athletic Club (1916)—were largely supplanted by themes of industry, modernity, play, and progress.

In a 1977 oral history, Charles Eames lauded the design of the coffee shop and restaurant at the Park Plaza Hotel (1929), calling one of its designers, St. Louis–born Victor Proetz, “a bona fide genius.”(2) Proetz’s distinctive modern classicism was particularly evident in a series of murals depicting the “glorious history of beer as it was made in Nuremberg” that he and his partner, Ralph Cole Hall, executed for the space.(3) The murals reference specific iconographic sources, including woodcuts from the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel, as well as nineteenth-century classicism, particularly the line-drawn figure of the angel Gabriel breathing life into the hop vine.(4) Among the medieval German architecture with geometrically patterned roofs, Proetz inserted contemporary St. Louis monuments: the Budweiser Brewery, Shell Building, and the Park Plaza itself appear alongside bird’s-eye views of walled and moated cities in an image characteristic of Proetz’s hybrid aesthetic.

May Photo Stair Case Mural No 1.jpg

In 1939, under the Works Progress Administration, Chicagoans Edward Millman and Mitchell Siporin won a commission to execute a series of frescoes for St. Louis’s main post office downtown.(5) The project called for work that would depict the history of the region from its colonial origins to Civil War reconstruction, and it boasted the largest prize of any of the mural commissions overseen by the Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture. The nine panels Millman and Siporin produced are dominated by large, robustly modeled figures in abstracted landscapes, the river winding through each scene’s background acting “like a ribbon binding them together.”(6) Both artists had spent time in Mexico studying the work of muralists Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco in the 1930s, and were unique for their unusual approach to historic narrative, which often investigated controversial subject matter such as social conflict and the treatment of minorities.(7) In the St. Louis Post Office murals, for example, they included scenes depicting the Missouri Compromise and the infamous Dred Scott case.

Around the same time, St. Louis–based medical supplies purveyor A. S. Aloe, under the leadership of Howard Baer, sheathed its company’s nineteenth-century headquarters on Olive Street in downtown St. Louis with a streamlined modern facade, adding ten thousand square feet of space and creating a new entrance and identity for the evolving company.(8) Visitors entering the large oval lobby were greeted by a dramatic curved staircase lined with murals depicting the early history of medicine. The unknown artist presents Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing, surrounded by signs of the zodiac. As the murals wound further up the wall, the evolution of surgery from the medieval period to present day was contrasted in two very different surgical theaters surmounted by monochromatic portraits of historic leaders in the medical field. With their rigidly modeled figures and references to Greek mythology, the murals call to mind the classicizing preference of many designers and architects active in St. Louis in the late 1930, such as Proetz and Frederick Dunn.(9)

Not long after they were unveiled, the murals were photographed by Morton D. May, celebrated patron of the arts and president of the Famous-Barr department stores. May was an active amateur photographer throughout his life whose ample resources allowed him to elevate his work to a professional level, as these remarkable photographs attest.(10) May employed carbro printing, a time-consuming and expensive color-printing technique that required the use of a specialized studio, to produce many of his color photographs of the period, including his prints of the A. S. Aloe murals. The technique, which results in a permanent color image, was favored by magazines and elite photographers, and May’s choice of it proved prescient, providing an enduring record of these murals that were themselves demolished in 1996.(11)

Prominent footwear maker Brown Shoe Company hired local artist Fred Conway to paint a floor-to-ceiling mural for the lobby of its new suburban headquarters in 1952. The seventy-five- foot-long mural on canvas depicts the history of shoemaking and the use of leather from Ancient Egypt to the industrial period.(14) As the mural extends up the wall, the figures, heavily modeled at the base, become progressively softer and more abstract, and the colors more muted and pastel. The unusual palette—ranging from bright red and cornflower yellow to turquoise, periwinkle, and subtle shades of white—and inventive use of pattern to link subjects give the figurative mural a distinctly fresh and modern character. Conway was a faculty member at Washington University’s school of art from 1929 to 1970, and a close friend and early supporter of German Expressionist painter Max Beckmann. Throughout his long career, he experimented with a range of styles, from realism to pure abstraction. A nationally recognized muralist, Conway is responsible for the murals in the former headquarters of Peabody Energy in St. Louis, which depict the history of the coal industry in the region, as well as those of the Federal Building in Kansas City, the First National Bank of Tulsa, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and the U.S Post Office in Purcell, Oklahoma.(15)In the years after World War II, several St. Louis companies would follow the lead of Baer and A. S. Aloe by expanding or rebuilding their offices and storefronts, and many would choose murals to illustrate the history of their particular industry in order to enliven the spaces and establish their unique position at the forefront of innovation in their respective fields. When May commissioned Samuel Marx to design the Clayton branch of Famous-Barr in 1948, the architect engaged fellow Chicagoan Edgar Miller to paint a series of whimsical murals in the interior. Improvising on the theme of each department, the artist illustrated the various historical influences on men’s fashion from early European to frontier culture in the men’s department, for example, and he irreverently sprinkled the walls of the maternity department with birds and bees. One reviewer called the murals “captivating,” praising the “noted” artist’s creativity and sense of humor.(12) Miller was a prominent Chicago designer, painter, and sculptor known for his quirky, handcrafted interiors.(13) He frequently collaborated with Marx, creating murals for many of his public commissions (Miller probably painted similarly themed murals in Famous-Barr’s Northland store) and contributing artwork for a series of plaster lamps that Marx used in many of his private commissions.

  1. “American Mural Exhibition to Open New Home of Museum of Modern Art,” MoMA press release, April 23, 1932, https://www.moma.org/learn/resources/press_ archives/1930s/1932.
  2. Charles Eames, interview with Virginia Stith, October 13, 1977, Charles Eames Oral History Project, pp. 27–28, Eames Office LLC archive, Venice, California.
  3. “The Story on the Wall,” promotional pamphlet (St. Louis: Park Plaza Hotel, c. 1930).
  4. Ibid.
  5. Active throughout the 1930s, Millman and Siporin had previously been awarded several prestigious mural commissions, including a series for Chicago’s “Century of Progress” World’s Fair in 1933 and the post offices in the Illinois towns of Moline and Decatur in 1935.
  6. Paintings, cartoons, photographs of the St. Louis Post Office murals by Mitchell Siporin and Edward Millman. (New York: Downtown Gallery, 1942), n.p.
  7. Marlene Park and Gerald E. Markowitz, Democratic Vistas: Post Offices and Public Art in the New Deal (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984), 39-40. Other WPA murals exploring local historic themes in St. Louis include Louisiana Purchase Exposition by Trew Hocker in the post office in University City and the Old Levee and Market at St. Louis by Lumen Martin Winter at the Wellston Station Post Office.
  8. An active art patron, Baer was keenly aware of the potential of modernism in design and marketing. To commemorate the somewhat precariously timed construction, Baer buried a time capsule under the cornerstone of his company’s new modern headquarters, in which he enclosed a letter where he confessed that despite the period of uncertainty, “the mere fact that we build here and now a new building when aerial bombs are laying waste London and Berlin . . . indicates that the human spirit is incurably optimistic.” Baer, “Letter for a Cornerstone,” September 1940, A. S. Aloe Time Capsule, Missouri History Museum, St. Louis.
  9. One year prior, the history of medicine was depicted in a series of both abstract and figurative murals for the Hall of Medicine and Public Health at the New York World’s Fair, which Baer very well could have seen.
  10. May became interested in photography during the mid- 1930s as he traveled across Europe and Asia with noted photographer Julian Bryan while still a student at Dartmouth. In the 1940s, he began experimenting with color photography and shifted his focus from travel to still life, portraiture, and architecture. “Man of the Year,” Globe-Democrat Sunday Magazine, December 27, 1959: 12.
  11. For more information on the history and process of carbro printing, see John Rohrbach, Color: American Photography Transformed (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013).
  12. “Noted Muralist’s Store Decorating Is Captivating,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 14, 1949.
  13. For more on Edgar Miller, see Richard Cahan, Edgar Miller and the Handmade Home: Chicago’s Forgotten Renaissance Man (Chicago: City Files Press, 2009).
  14. “The Romance of Shoemaking,” promotional pamphlet (St. Louis: Brown Shoe Company, c. 1955).
  15. The former Peabody headquarters was acquired by engineering firm ICC in 2013. As the Post-Dispatch noted, “ICC also will preserve a colorful mural by St. Louis artist Fred Conway. The large mural inside the first-floor lobby depicts coal mining, shipping and conversion to electricity.” Tim Bryant, “Former Peabody Building Gets New Owner, Life,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 1, 2013.

 

Original Post Courtesy of SLAM

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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