This painting by Edward Boccia ‘God Within’ belongs to The Kirkwood United Methodist Church, Missouri.
This painting by Edward Boccia ‘God Within’ belongs to The Kirkwood United Methodist Church, Missouri.
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.
On the landing between the first and second floors of the Humanities-Social Sciences Building sits The Sacrosanct, 1978, a triptych by Edward Boccia, an American poet and painter known for his large-scale paintings in Neo-Expressionist style. It was donated by Morton D. May.
Donations may be made online here or if you prefer to donate via check kindly send to The Edward E. Boccia Artist Trust, 600 Harper Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119, USA. Please note that all checks must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
If you have questions please contact us at 646 595 9962.
This is the first critical survey of the artist’s oeuvre and will include over 100 color plates of the artist’s paintings, including a number of pieces never before seen in public.
Four thematic sections will highlight the complex and engaging iconography of Boccia’s practice while also discussing his work in the context of 20th century American art history. The book will be printed in 2022-23. The primary author is Rosa JH Berland, Art Historian with contributions by CC Marsh and Alice Boccia.
Our professional editorial team includes Matthew Dunleavy, Project Editor, and Lisa D. Berland, Copy Editor (Volunteer). Sabrina Xiyin Lin, Project Assistant with Steven Leible, Photography.
We owe a special thanks to the Phoebe Weil, Hillary Kapan and Dr. Kevin Berland for their generosity as well.
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…
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.
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2021
The Edward E. Boccia Artist Trust is delighted to announce we are near completion of our upcoming book EDWARD E BOCCIA -AN AMERICAN ARTIST. This book is edited and written by Rosa JH Berland with contributions by Dr. Alice Boccia and CC Marsh.
It shall be the first critical full length study of the artist’s work and will serve as the authority on an important American artist while engaging in a more general discussion of hierarchies of style and genre within American twentieth century art.
The book will showcase photographs of never before seen artwork, reveal the innermost workings of the Italian American artist’s mind and technique and present a picture of creativity in mid century to contemporary America. Publication date is 2022-23. We are currently in our final fundraising efforts.
We welcome support of any kind to help us fund the publication of this innovative book, a first of its kind 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.
Did you know that the American painter Edward Boccia worked at Washington University shortly after the appointment of Max Beckman. We know that the American artist was indebted to Beckman in many ways, and he often acknowledged the strength of the German Expressionist master’s work.
It’s interesting to note that Boccia would inherit Beckmann’s painting easel and use it among the many others in his studio through the years. Recently, a late smaller scale painting entitled Beckmann Looking at my Model (1991) resurfaced on the market -what a fascinating piece — a reflection not only of Beckmann’s legacy in the story of modern art, but a moment in Boccia’s own artistic life.
We are currently seeking a part time intern in the field of art, art history, museums studies, or library and or archival studies for our preservation and book project.
Under the supervision of the lead curator and art historian and the artist heirs, the intern will conduct research, edit texts, and help maintain the website and social media if necessary.
The ideal candidate will be media savvy, speak and write perfect English, and she or he can be located abroad and communicate and work remotely. We will work with universities for credits for independent studies etc.
Under the supervision of the lead curator and art historian and the artist heirs, the intern will conduct research, edit texts, and help maintain the website and social media if necessary. She or he will be proficient in all Office Platforms, have ability in Photoshop, and preferably Indesign and other design programs. Access to university library databases is important for research as well.
At this time, the internship is unpaid, although there will be modest stipend offered.
Please write to us directly, and provide a short cover letter of interest, academic record, and CV and two references.
Edward E. Boccia Nereus Reborn, 1960, oil on canvas triptych, side panels 93 x 25, center panel 93 x 48, Collection of University of St. Louis, Missouri
Edward Boccia’s career as a painter may be poetically referred to as a grand house with many rooms. Some rooms, although elegant, are lived in briefly. Other rooms, made more comfortable by the artist’s personal associations, are occupied for years. No room is permanently closed. The artist moves freely from room to room, constantly borrowing ideas from where he has stayed before. The paintings and drawings in this exhibition are grouped by thematic concerns beginning with character sketches done in France during World War II and ending with a nine-panel painting, Eugene’s Journey (1996) that draws upon all of the artist’s skills as a painter and poet. (Museum of Contemporary Religious Art)
The American painter Edward E. Boccia’s most important works were large-scale, often as multiple panels. The oil on canvas pictures required a rather long process including a laborious building of composition, form, and pigment.
The artist was inspired in part by the traditions of ecclesiastical art, including altarpieces, while inflected with the tone, style and modern pictorial language of artists such as Max Beckmann. Often Boccia’s paintings seem alight with a sacral sense of light, and the eerie shadows and spotlighting of the Surrealist school. This admixture comes together to create an arresting pictorial language that remains quite his own.
This gallery offers a selection of key works by the artist, among them some of the largest and most ambitious works, as well as some of the more disturbing and puzzling pieces.
To see such work in reproduction is certainly no match for witnessing the presence and shocking iconography of Boccia’s work, that dance between desire, images of stigmata, crowded spaces peopled with strange creatures and self portraits, awash in ominous shadows and illuminated areas of paint.
Never the less, it is important to showcase these remarkable pieces in particular, and make images of this artist’s achievements accessible to the public. In many ways this curated galleries expresses the way Boccia saw style, as an ends to a mean, namely the creation of truly mysterious, atelier style painting that had echoes of historic greats, not in terms of formal cues, but in the sense that all art should evoke a sense of the anima, the spirit and soul.
On the occasion of Boccia’s monographic show at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art in 1996, the elusive and complex nature of Edward Boccia’s practice was summed up beautifully as follows
It is with the open eye of the painter surveying the pivotal movements in 20th-century art that we will see the work by Boccia that touches on Cubism and Surrealism, American Regionalism of the 1930s, German Expressionism of the 1920s, and Neo-Expressionism of the 1970s. For Boccia all rooms are open today, and it is for us to decide where we should linger. Boccia’s career literally spans a lifetime. (MOCRA)
Edward E. Boccia Mystique Marriage, 1979, oil on canvas, triptych, Collection of Jennifer Paternikis, Athens, Greece
Photograph of Boccia’s painting The Wedding Reception, oil on canvas, 55 x 63 in the artist’s studio c.1979
Edward E. Boccia Dark Night of the Soul, 1987, oil on canvas, triptych, Private Collection
Edward E. Boccia Eugene’s Journey, 1996, oil on canvas, 68 x 184, nine panel polyptych, Collection of The Artist Trust
All Rights Reserved, The Edward E. Boccia and Madeleine J. Boccia Artist Trust.