Rosa JH Berland will give a talk on March 21st from 6-8 pm on the life and work of the artist Edward Boccia at the Calandra Italian American Institute as part of the Philip V. Cannistraro Seminar Series. The event is open to the public and all are welcome. We are most honored to have the opportunity to share the accomplishments and contributions of this important Italian American artist and teacher.
Edward E. Boccia: The Painter of Nightmares and Dreams
Rosa Berland, The Edward E. Boccia Artist Trust
This talk will examine the artist Edward E. Boccia’s (1921–2012) innovative approach to painting and the reception of his work, as well as his connections to his Italian heritage. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Boccia studied at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League and went on to teach for more than thirty years at the Washington University of St. Louis. Called a neo-expressionist, a modern neo-Renaissance painter, and even a magical realist, Boccia had a practice informed by the great masters as well as the work of twentieth-century modernists such as Max Beckmann and Oskar Kokoschka. What makes Boccia unique is his creation of a pictorial language that synthesized the mid-to-late-twentieth-century experience with motifs and themes from Catholicism, literary criticism, the politics of anti-materialism, and the importance of craft.
Updated January 2023
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 2024-25. We are currently in our final fundraising efforts.
All donations are held in trust until the publication. Thank you for your kind generosity and commitment to the legacy of this great Italian American painter and teacher.
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.
In the beginning of his career, the young artist Edward Boccia studied life drawing at The Art Students’ League of New York’s with eminent teachers such as fellow Italian American artist Jon Corbino and Harry Sternberg.
The Trust is delighted to announce a recent donation of two paintings by Edward Boccia to the League’s permanent collection: The Last Supper, 1977 and Bathers by the Sea, 1995 in recognition of this formative early training and the importance of the league and the meaningful experience of learning with working artists.
Of this tradition of teaching young artists and creative professionals, Boccia said in 1949:
“It is the function of the artist to employ those means existent in his cultural and social milieu. Required are the variations placed upon art within the dynamics of a technological age. It is the purpose of the Columbus Art School to synchronize its curriculum to meet and affect the stipulations of the art professions. The methodology for approaching problems is inspired by the social impetus in a creative education.” (Bauhaus Principles in Use Here”, The Columbus Dispatch 1949)
Edward Boccia The Last Supper, 1977
The Boccia estate is delighted to share that Saint Louis Art Museum recently acquired a triptych panel painting by Edward E. Boccia entitled Birth of Eros, 1960-61 through a special donation. SLAM is among over forty institutions allover the world that own Boccia’s work.
A key work among the artist’s many large scale panel painting Birth of Eros expresses Boccia’s interest in the metaphysical concept of transcendence within the mode of painting and in the problems of contemporary culture, spiritual conflicts, and religion. The artist’s creation of a personalized vocabulary of metaphor, allegory, and symbol in an admixture of complex stylization was one of certain originality. Boccia clearly saw the role of art as the sublimation of the force of creative art; the making of an earthly object represents moral conflict.
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.
Edward Boccia was an American painter + professor of fine art at Washington University for over 30 years. his teaching legacy lives on symbolically in work on view at universities across the country.
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.
Our patronage and donation program is officially live!
Edward E. Boccia, An American Artist is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of the book Edward E. Boccia, An American Artist.
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.
About the Book
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.
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.
Boccia’s painting of 1958 Adam and Eve recently sold at auction, truly a lovely very early piece featuring the puzzling yet fascinating motif seen throughout a lifetime of work —the Icarus like falling figure. Interesting fact: The picture won a special prize at show of Old Testament art in 1958.