Indepth Arts News: |
"Woodblock Prints by Letterio Calapai"
2005-07-11 until 2005-09-03
USA United States of America
The Works on Paper department at Childs Gallery in Boston is currently featuring a fine collection of woodblock prints by the Italian-American artist Letterio Calapai (1902-1993). The exhibition, Letterio Calapai: Woodblocks Old and New, runs from July 11 to September 3, 2005. The son of Sicilian immigrants, Letterio Calapai was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts where as a boy he was inspired by collections at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
In 1925, Calapai graduated from the Massachusetts Normal Art School (today known as the Massachusetts College of Art) and embarked on what was to be a prolific artistic career, spanning well over fifty years. Calapai made his first wood engraving in 1934, and the technique would feature prominently thereafter as he developed social, religious, and literary themes in his work.
The exhibition contains a considerable number of the early wood block prints produced by Calapai from 1934 to 1948, which includes book illustrations, religious subjects, and scenes of society’s progress in both rural and urban landscapes. Among them, The Negro Bible series (1946) stands out as an impressive group of 45 images illustrating a West African adaptation of Old and New Testament accounts. After a respite from woodblock printing in the middle portion of his career, Calapai revisited the technique later in life as he resumed a more representational style. While continuing with earlier themes, the artist’s everyday surroundings became more central as subjects in the later works.
The Childs Gallery exhibition parallels the ‘old’ and ‘new’ woodblock prints of Letterio Calapai.
While the artist’s thematic and stylistic development is highlighted, elements of continuity are also observed.