Saturday, June 13, 2020

Portrait of the Artist's Father Ed Quirk

A relative of Francis Quirk provided us with an image of the painter's portrait of his father Edward. The painting depicts him sitting in the pew at St. Mary’sChurch in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Pawtucket is located just North of Providence and was a prosperous town with a healthy middle class. It still retains a great deal of charm. 

Edward was a church stalwart, regularly taking the same place at mass, so the location is fitting. We estimate that the painting dates from around 1940 when Francis Quirk was 33 years old.

Portrait Church-going man, image of a man in church, Francis J. Quirk  St. Mary's Church interior.
Portrait of the artist's father Ed Quirk in St. Mary's Church. Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Ed Quirk had great faith in two things: the Church and the Union. The ray of light shining in highlights a union-pin on his lapel.  One of his sons would go on to hold a significant position in the AFL-CIO.

Since Pawtucket is not too far, we decided to capitalize on the geographic proximity to go and visit this location. The Deacon at St. Mary’s graciously opened the beautiful church and allowed us to explore the space. We sought to recreate the location of the painting, which provided some interesting insights into Quirk’s technique.

The Church had changed a bit in the intervening years as the interior paint had been lightened considerably from a dark green in the painting to a more subdued, and esthetically pleasing, palette of light pastel hues. Thanks to the arrangement of windows and the station, we were able to find the site of the seating with little difficulty.

Side-by-Side Images of Portrait and Location 

When we compare Quirk’s painting with the image of the space we can see the similarities. Quirk captured the pillar perfectly and the alignment of the window and station of the cross. The light does stream in through the windows in those powerful white beams.

But there also were a number of differences. We thought the angle of our photo was too high, but the camera was held fairly low, so it seems that the painter chose to exclude the pew rails receding into the painting. Quirk modified the station of the cross relief to make it more ornate. He also simplified the shape of the pew end pieces.  

Close up of Portrait Detail  Church Pew End Pieces

Quirk changed the stained glass of the window; adding in considerably more red than in the original window. If one imagines the windows as being painted with the more translucent clear glass, the affect of the light beam illuminating the pin would have been diminished. All four of these changes were discretionary acts as none of these structural features have changed during the interim.

We looked to see if we could find the source of the image used for the window. In the back of the church there was one window with some similarity. In the image on the right one can see how the light streams in and how Quirk effectively captured it in the portrait.

Close up of Portrait Detail  Stained Glass

This visit gave us insights into Quirk's technique in that he was not ironclad in holding to a view to paint reality. Instead he added, subtracted and tweaked the world to enhance its beauty. 

We cannot thank Deacon Patrick enough for his hospitality and support. If you are ever in Pawtucket and want to see a beautiful church St. Mary’s is well worth a visit.  When one is enthralled by the great beauty created in response to faith, one cannot help but feel the touch of God just a little bit. Below are a few other photos of the church.
Entrance of St. Mary's Church  Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Altar of St. Mary's Church  Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Interior of St. Mary's Church  Pawtucket, Rhode Island

St Cecilia iplays the organ n center of stained glass above the entrance of St. Mary's Church  Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Penguin Painting by Francis Quirk

Through a relative of Francis Quirk, we received an image of a painting of penguins.  We were a bit surprised to see this particular painting as we had not seen cold or wintery images in his work with one exception. It seems ironic that a man who owned homes in Maine and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania seemed to have an aversion to paintings with snow. 

Penguin painting, penguins, mother penguin, father penguin, penguin chick, adorable penguin images, Francis Quirk
Adult Penguin and Chick by Francis Quirk

The painting depicts a parent penguin with a chick in an icy enviroment. The painting has four basic tones- white, beige, black and blue. The execution is typical of Quirk's painting with well executed line and attention to detail. 

We wonder if there might be some symbolism of the birds in the image that is relevant to his family.


As it turns out the painting was executed at the request of Francis' daughter Ada-Lee. So the parental-offspring relationship may indeed reflect the personal affinity between the consignor and the artist. 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Francis Quirk's One-Man Show at the Women's City Club of Philadelphia

One thing we have learend about Francis Quirk is that he was prolific. As we have built our image library we have been amazed at how many paintings and images of his paintings have surfaced. They continue to emerge on a monthly basis. We have posted rather substantial preseentations of his work on slideshare and the production of an updated omnibus presentation is long overdue. The description of the paintings at a 1946 one man show lead us to conclude that there are many more waiting to be discovered. 

In 1946,  Quirk was 39 years old and teaching at Ogontz College, a prestigious school for girls. He was active in the Philadelphia art community.  And in February his one man show opened at the Women's City Club of Philadelphia. 

Philadelphia Inquirer Write up of Francis Quirk's one man show. 
The Philadelphia Inquirer covered the opening in its Sunday Arts Column describing Quirk as being "frequently represented at exhibitions" so he must have been actively promoting his work.  The exhibition consisted mostly of oils with protraits of boys reading, women and a military man.  He also included people painting in a landscape and a still life. We have only found one still life by Quirk, although he was adept at painting objects including plants in many of his portraits. 

The still life included two bits of Quirk humor. The first is the inclusion of an image of another  Quirk painting in the still life. He famously did this in his self-portrait of his painting of Edgar Lee Masters that is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. (You can see it and a discussion here.) The second was the nature of the painting reproduced in that it featured dogs near a car tire  and was entitled "Going for the Mail."  We have begun searching for the painting, but thus far, it has been fruitless. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Ossabaw Island Painting by Francis Quirk

Through family members of Francis Quirk, we have received a couple more images of the master painter’s art. One post will require a visit to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to visit a location, so this post will focus on the other- a landscape.

This painting was last seen in Florida in the home of Francis Quirk’s brother. The image is from a photograph of the painting taken decades ago. We are looking into ways we can adjust the picture to produce a rectangular image from this slightly oblong view. (If you have Adobe Photoshop and are motivated, please feel free to save the image and give it a shot.)

Ossabaw Island painting, landscape painting, Georgia painting, Francis Quirk Ossabaw island image
Francis Quirk  Landscape Painting  (Possibly Ossabaw Island  1968-1972) Photo courtesy of T. Bray

Judging by the flora and egrets, we are going to jump to the conclusion that this work was executed at one of his fellowship stays at Ossabaw Island. He painted there in 1968 and 1972 and letters to friends during his stay indicate that he enjoyed the daily routine, slow pace of life as well as the ability to focus on his art.

This art work adds to our appreciation of Quirk’s work. While a technically solid portrait painter, he shows that he also can execute a nice landscape. He takes what could be a dark or monochromatic view and makes it bright and inviting through his use of color and birds. The greens have been mixed with yellow to make them brighter. The water is a lighter blue and the orange bush in the foreground adds a splash of color. 

The whereabouts of the painting today are unknown. Perhaps, it found its way to another home through an auction house or is in the hands of another relative.

To learn more about Ossabaw and see other paintings from Quirk's fellowships on Ossabaw you can visit our earlierpost here.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Bernard Arnest Exhibits at Lehigh University Art Gallery

Continuing our posts on various artists who exhibited at Lehigh University's Art Galleries, we now focus on  Bernard Arnest whom Francis Quirk brought to the University in 1964.

Interestingly, Arnest had representation from the Kraushaar Gallery in New York who represented a number of other artists who exhibited at Lehigh including Raphael Soyer and Ruth Gikow. Interestingly, there are some similarities among these three artists' styles. This, in turn, gives us an indication os the gallery owner's tastes and those of its New York clientel. We know that there was an ongoing relationship between Quirk and the gallery.

Francis Quirk  Bernard Arnest Lehigh University Exhibit
Lehigh University's Brown and White blurb on Bernard Arnest and Raymond Mintz 1964 exhibit

Biography of Bernard Arnest

Bernard Arnest 1940

Born in Denver in 1917, Arnest attended East High School, where he studied with its longtime art teacher, Helen Perry who was influential in the education of several successful artists. Herself a student of André Lhote in Paris, Perry for many years maintained a high standard in the Denver Public Schools.
Before attending East, Arnest wanted to study piano. However, in high school drawing class he discovered his aptitude for art. At Perry’s recommendation he benefited from supplemental instruction at the newly founded Kirkland School of Art and at the school of fine art and design operated in downtown Denver.
The initial public recognition of Arnest’s artistic talent occurred at East when he was the first-place winner of the Charles Milton Carter Memorial Prize. The prize earned him a prominent place in an exhibition—along with fellow runners-up—at Chappell House, the first home of the Denver Art Museum.
Following graduation from East, Arnest enrolled at the Broadmoor Art Academy in Colorado Springs, where he studied with Boardman Robinson and Henry Varnum Poor from 1935-37 and 1938-39. It was the state’s leading art school with a national reputation, and it attracted a diverse student body, including a large percentage of women artists.
Several of Arnest’s small-format paintings from this time depict scenes of harvesting and cattle ranching. He was a skilled draftsman emphasizing the subjects’ rhythmic curves and movements. 
The institution’s leading mural instructors were Robinson and Mechau, had an enviable success record in winning government mural competitions. From 1936 to 1940 students, faculty and alumni executed 60 murals.
Settlers on the Texas Plains By Bernard Arnest 1940

A 1940 oil on canvas, Arnest’s WPA-era mural was installed in the post office at Wellington, Texas, where it can still be seen. He painted it while in Colorado Springs in the late 1930s. 
Photo by Philip Parisi for his book "The Texas Post Office Murals," 2004, courtesy Texas A&M University Press

Arnest won the commission for the post office in Wellington, Texas, in 1939 and the following year installed the completed mural, where it remains in its original location. Titled Settlers on the Texas Plains and executed in a combination of tempera and oil on canvas, the mural shows Texans building a shelter and sowing crops on the area plains, “fundamental activities,” in his words, “of opening and using a new land.”
He also submitted a mural design of a cattle drive in the Texas Panhandle to the Amarillo post office competition but did not get the commission. In addition to his own mural painting, he and two other students assisted Robinson with his eighteen-panel mural for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., depicting portentous moments and leading figures in the history of law. After completing his studies, Arnest briefly served as Robinson’s teaching assistant. 
Bernard Arnest on ladder working on a mural for Boardman Robinson
Boardman Robinson’s students at the school of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center assist him in the mid-1930s with his murals collectively titled "Great Events and Figures of the Law." The murals were installed at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The student on the ladder is Bernard Arnest; standing is David Fredenthal. Photo by Laura Gilpin.
© 1979 Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.

In 1940 the John SimonGuggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Arnest a fellowship in painting. He used it to do creative painting in San Francisco and to experience the city’s thriving art scene that included the San Francisco Museum of (Modern) Art. There Arnest visited the Picasso retrospective in 1940. That same year the museum mounted Arnest’s one-man show, the first of a number in his professional career.
After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Arnest enlisted with the Army Signal Corps. Commissioned a Second Lieutenant a year later, he served for nine months in Iceland in 1943 and then with the Tenth Replacement Depot in England before joining a five-man team of artists in 1944 attached to the History Section of the US Army’s European Theater of Operations. The section was established to collect information for use in the official American history of the war to be written and published after the end of hostilities.
Arnest served as the section’s Chief War Artist through the war’s end. He worked in England, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, sketching and painting vignettes of American Army life, the famous bridge at Remagen, Buchenwald concentration camp prisoners, the meeting of Soviet and American troops at Strehla on the Elbe River in 1945, and the ruins of bombed-out cities in which civilians tried to survive. He also won a Bronze Star for helping a rescue mission near a minefield in Aachen, Germany.
Untitled (Wounded Soldier) pen and ink wash by Bernard Arnest  

After the war he worked for two years in New York City, believing that every artist should spend at least one year there. During that time, he began a thirty-nine-year affiliation with Kraushaar Galleries. In addition to acquainting himself with the new postwar developments in American art, he traveled up and down the East Coast painting scenes from North Carolina to New Hampshire. 
In 1947 as his money was running out, he fortuitously received a job offer from the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts (since 1970, Minneapolis College of Art and Design—MCAD). Shortly after Arnest assumed his instructor of painting position in 1949, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts gave him a one-man show of rural and urban landscape paintings and drawings of East Coast and wartime European subjects.
Red Barn  Bernard Arnest 1949  Minnesota Historical Society

Arnest’s service as an artist in the US Army helped him earn the commission in 1955 to paint a three-panel mural in the west lobby of the new Veterans Service Building on the grounds of the state capitol in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He based the composition depicting modern combat conditions on his wartime sketches and paintings with texts beneath the images excerpted from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. 
St Paul Veterans Service Building   Bernard Arnest
Bernard Arnest Mural Veterans Service Building St. Paul, Minnesota 1955
Mural in situ.

Mural Veterans Service Building St. Paul, Minnesota
Bernard Arnest Mural Veterans Service Building St. Paul, Minnesota
Close up of Mural

The Lincoln quote reads "It is for us, the living, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work, which they how fought here have thus far so nobly advanced."

Veterans Service Building St. Paul, MN  Mural by Bernard Arnest
Close up of  Bernard Arnest Mural Veterans Service Building St. Paul, Minnesota 1955
Close up of  Bernard Arnest Mural Veterans Service Building St. Paul, Minnesota 1955

Veterans Service Building St. Paul, MN  Mural by Bernard Arnest
Close up of  Bernard Arnest Mural Veterans Service Building St. Paul, Minnesota 1955 
We thank Mark Arnest for graciously providing the photos. We have not been able to determine if the mural is still in situ. Mark keeps a facebook page on Arnest. 

Arnest's mural is interesting as the viewer can see elements of both his technical excellence and his willingess to move into the abstract.  The figures in the mural are well drawn, yet they are placed in environments with bright to garish patches of color. These colorful abstract background patches convey the sense of damaged buildings.  There is a hint of combat in the left section, soldiers milling in the largest central portion and medics carrying a soldier on a stretcher in the third. This is not the type of mural that one would expect in a veterans building in 1955. For that era, the mural is cutting edge. It is worth noting that a "Promise of Youth" fountain that was to be placed in the building was the subject of significant controversy. So it may be concluded that the modernist architect Brooks Caven was willing to push the boundaries.

The following year the First National Bank engaged Arnest to paint an abstract mural for its bank branch (now closed) at the Southdale Center, the nation’s first indoor regional shopping mall, which opened in 1956 in Edina, Minnesota. 
After completing the spring semester at the University of Minnesota in 1957, Bernard Arnest relocated the family to Colorado Springs to join Colorado College its faculty as professor and chairman of the art department. He also was a principal consultant for the Advanced Placement in Art program developed by the College Entrance Examination Board. In the early 1960s he also served as a consultant on college and university art programs at Stanford University, Pennsylvania State University, and the Ford Foundation.
in 1960 as a US Department of State consultant for its international educational/cultural exchange program and receiving a grant to depict the landscape and people of Afghanistan under the auspices of the US Embassy in Kabul. There, he lectured in English before select groups and traveled around the country making field sketches. He executed several paintings in the country that made up his solo show at the American Exhibition at Kabul’s 1960 Afghan National Fair. Some of those works along with others he finished after returning to Colorado Springs were exhibited later at the Design Center and Art Galleries in Denver and at Lehigh University.
The 1964 Lehigh University exhibition of Aarnest's paintings from Afghanistan also included those of Raymond Mintz in an exhibition organized by Francis Quirk. This was not the first time Bethlehem, Pennsylvania saw Arnest's work. Earlier in 1957, one of his paintings joined those of Edward Hopper, James Penney and others in another Lehigh exhibition.

We provide a selection of Arnest's Afghanistan paintings below. We cannot fully confirm that these were the actual,s specific paintings exhibited at Lehigh at the time. However, we do believe that these are a representative sample.  In the works, one can again see both the technical skill and a willingness to creatively use color and shape in a more fluid manner. 
Afghans Resting by Bernard Arnest Photo courtesy of Mark Arnest
Afghan Family by Bernard Arnest Photo courtesy of Mark Arnest
Afghan Seated by Bernard Arnest Photo courtesy of Mark Arnest

Bernard Arnest   Painting of Afghanistan Windblown People
White Wind by Bernard Arnest Photo courtesy of Mark Arnest

Bernard Arnest   landscape Painting of Afghanistan
Wheat Field by Bernard Arnest Photo courtesy of Mark Arnest

Arnest retired from Colorado College in 1982 as professor emeritus of art, a step he felt he should have taken some forty years earlier. While he enjoyed teaching, he welcomed the lack of schedules and deadlines, leaving him free to paint and do a little writing.
He died in 1986.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Alfred Crimi Exhibits at Lehigh

Sometimes in  researching an artist whose career was aided by Quirk through an exhibition one discovers amazing things. We helped a school in New York discover James Penney had painted its previously unattributed WPA murals. We learned about the amazing VictoriaOakley and her working toward world peace. We helped draw attention to Joe Army's ground-breaking work in playground structures, where he revolutionized thinking on play. But one amazing wrinkle to the Alfred Crimi story could almost bring tears to one's eyes. 

Crimi would exhibit with Anna Quirk (Francis Quirk's wife) at Lehigh in 1963.

Alfred Crimi Self Portrait  New York Artist Mural Painter
Alfred Crimi Self Portrait

Biography of Alfred D. Crimi

Alfred Crimi

Alfred D. Crimi was born in San Fratello, in the province of Messina, Sicily, on December 1, 1900. He was the eighth of eleven children born to Filadelfio Crimi and Maria di Giorgio. He attended school in San Fratello and at the age of eight, his parents sent him for a few hours after school to a furniture maker to learn a trade. In 1910, the Crimi family emigrated to America.

They embarked from the port of Palermo, and traveled steerage for thirteen days until they arrived in New York. For the first three years he lived and went to school in East Harlem. It was during this period that young Crimi was inspired to become an artist. He began his formal training in art at the National Academy of Design, New York City. In 1924, lived in Greenwich Village, renting a studio at West 14th Street. While there, he won the Suydon Gold and Silver Medals for drawing from life, in addition to other prizes for which he competed. Adding to his academic training, Crimi studied for one year at the Beaux Art, being honored with the Tiffany Fellowship. Crimi’s first one-man show in drawing was at the Babcock Galleries in 1928. He then exhibited at various places including the National Academy of Design, the Sesqui-Centennial in Philadelphia, and the Ferargil Galleries. In 1929, he returned to Italy to continue his art studies. In Rome, he attended the Scuola Preparatoria Alle Arti Ornamentali where he studied the art of fresco and Pompeian encaustic as well as perspective drawing. At the end of his studies, he received a diploma and was awarded first prize for fresco painting. After graduation, he left Rome by train, to return to San Fratello.

During his sojourn in San Fratello, he painted several canvases and during the remainder of time he visited the cathedrals of Palermo, Cefalu, and Monreale – masterpieces of Norman-Byzantine art. Many years later, the cathedral of Monreale inspired his painting “The Cathedral”, which is on display at the Griffiths Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University, Canton, N.Y.

Crimi returned to the United States in 1930 during the Great Depression. Crimi found a position in Portland, Oregon, as a consultant in color decoration for a firm in New York City. After several months in Oregon, he returned to New York and was engaged to teach art at the John Reed Art School. (When he found out that the School was a front for communist propaganda, he immediately resigned). During this time he occasionally visited his brother Fred and his wife Sara, who were musicians. Fred a violinist, and Sara, a pianist, frequently invite other musicians to their home for chamber music sessions. It was at one of these gatherings that Crimi met his future wife, Mary Timpone, a pianist. Mary, whose family had emigrated from San Fratello, married Crimi in 1935.

On May 12, 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Federal Emergency Relief Act and on December of the same year, through the newly organized Public Works of Art Project, he received a commission to paint a fresco in the Open Air Aquarium, Key West, Florida, which he completed in 1935. The fresco, with its vivid, vibrant colors, was one of the main attractions of the Aquarium, and it showed Key West fishermen unloading a catch of fish and a fishing vessel docking. The original mural was destroyed, but images of a replica can be found here

In 1936, both Crimi and Mary were employed on the Works Projects Administration (W.P.A.) – Mary as a piano teacher, and Crimi as an artist in the mural division. His first assignment for which he competed, was to paint a fresco for the Medical Board Room at Harlem Hospital. The fresco was entitled “Modern Surgery and Anesthesia”. Interestingly, the mural depicted only white clinicians. You can learn more about the murals at the hospital here. 

Selected section of "Modern Surgery and Anesthesia" mural by Alfred Crimi.
Modern Anesthesia Mural image   Alfred Crimi
Complete Black and White Image of  "Modern Surgery and Anesthesia" a 1936 mural by Alfred Crimi.Work was funded by the WPA.

Meanwhile, he entered a competition for the main Post Office building in Washington, D.C., and out of more than three hundred entries submitted, he was chosen as one of the six winners. The mural he completed “Parcel Post”, depicted a rural railroad station with a loading platform and men loading and unloading mail.

"Parcel Post" mural  by Alfred Crimi

In 1935 he was invited to become a member of the National Society of Mural Painters. In 1936 the Society sponsored a nationwide competition for an eight hundred square feet mural for the rear chancel wall of the Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York City. Of the 20 entrants, the Crimi's design won the $6,800 commission for his Spreading the Gospel.

The Sad Story

Crimi worked on the mural for two years.  Upon its unveiling on November 20, 1938 the pastor, Dr. Daniel Russell, described it as a picture of "the human Christ, whose muscles have hardened with the toil of rude and heavy tools in a primitive carpenter shop."  A large number of the female members disagreed, finding it disturbing to look at the muscular naked torso of Christ throughout the service.

Late in the summer of 1946 Crimi was in Manhattan and dropped into Rutgers Presbyterian Church to visit his work.  The Rome [New York] Sentinel reported "he was horrified to find that it had been blotted out by the church authorities."  That mural had been erased by a thick coating of white paint.

"It was explained by the Rev. Dr. Ralph W. Key, the pastor, that members of the congregation felt the central figure of Christ 'portrayed physical rather than spiritual strength--they just didn't like it and when the church was redecorated the mural was included in the plans."

The offending Spreading the Gospel. New York Post, March 11, 1947

Incensed and indignant, Crimi went to court for damages.  He admitted to reporters that while "he could not legally force the church to restore the mural, he would attempt to force the issue on moral grounds."

Crimi's case was interesting.  He said the church had replaced his mural with "an undignified burial shroud" and asked the courts to "protect his honor and reputation." (And grant him $50,000 as well.)  To do so attorneys and a judge would have to decide if such a thing as "moral ownership" existed.

It didn't.

After dragging on for years, the courts ruled on January 29, 1949 that "when the picture has been painted and delivered to the patron and paid for by him, the artist has no right whatever left in it." Supreme Court Referee, Charles C. Lockwood, ruled that the work had been “sold unconditionally” in 1938. You can see a more detailed discussion of the case here.


Since the initial publication of this post we have obtained a copy of Crimi's biography "My Life Story" and obtained better images of the mural. We have inserted them below. 

Image of Rutgers Presbyterian Church Mural   Alfred Crimi
Chancel of Rutgers Presbyterian Church Mural by Alfred Crimi 1936-1938

Destroyed Mural, New York City, Rutgers Presbyterian Church Alfred Crimi
Chancel of Rutgers Presbyterian Church Mural by Alfred Crimi 1936-1938

For the years 1939 and 1940, under the WPA’s section of Painting and Sculpture, he was awarded through national competition two additional mural commissions: “Work, Religion and Education” for Northampton, Mass. Post Office, and “Anthony Wayne, General, Surveyor, and Gentleman Farmer”, for Wayne, Pennsylvania, Post Office. These murals were painted on oil canvas. In 1941 as the U.S. entered World War II, all federally sponsored art projects were terminated; consequently, Crimi was compelled to seek other employment.

"Anthony Wayne, General, Surveyor, and Gentleman Farmer” mural by Alfred Crime

During the war, he went to work for the Sperry Gyroscope, and was assigned in the Graphic Engineering Department. In this department he was part of a team of artists doing three-dimensional drawings of military weapons and other instruments from engineers’ blueprints; these illustrations were reproduced in military training manuals. Several of these drawings were also published by Life magazine, the London Illustrated Sunday News and other industrial publications. His work showed remarkable attention to detail and excellent draftsmanship.

Ball Turret Gunner Diagram executed by Alfred Crimi for Sperry in 1943. The Ball  Turret was beneath a B-17bomber and a very dangerous position. 
It was during this period that the genesis of a multi-dimensional painting began to take form. This method involves a combination of geometrical, transparent, overlapping planes; the light is emitted by the whole painting, different from the traditional method of light cast on subjects – the method of chiaroscuro painting. Crimi later perfected this method and used it in many of his paintings; he also wrote a book entitled The Art of Multi-Dimensional Painting. This book may be purchased through Amazon. 

After leaving Sperry, Crimi returned to full-time easel painting and watercolor. However, before he resumed his career as a creative artist, it was necessary that he reconcile his training in the classical tradition, which progressed from realism to expressionism, to abstractionism and to his new found method of multi-dimensional principles of color animation. The first important painting to come out of this period was the much acclaimed “Metropolis”, which is now in the Wisteriahurst Museum of Holyoke, MA. The Painting uses rectangular and abstract geometrical forms to represent a modern city.

In 1947, George Binet Gallery in New York sponsored a one-man show. The exhibition was a retrospective of the previous six years and demonstrated Crimi’s abundant capacity for handling pictorial problems masterfully. It showed how Crimi worked his way through strong-modeled, rounded forms, to pure abstraction. Among the painting presented were “My Window”, “Polyphony”, “The Unconquered”, and “Meucci”. As a result of this exhibition he was invited to teach at City College in the Adult Education Program, lecturing on paintings, watercolor, and perspective drawing. He also taught at the Pratt Institute in New York and Penn State University. Among the subjects covered in his classes were “Fresco Painting in Terms of the Present”, “The Making of Venetian Glass Mosaic”, “A Creative Approach to Color”. Crimi’s film “The Making and Fascination of Fresco Painting” was usually included in the curriculum.

During this time he became member of several art societies, including National Society of Mural Painters, Allied Artist of America, The Audubon Artists, The Federation of Modern Sculptors and Painters, and others.

"City in Decay" by Alfred Crimi 1948

"Shutter Eye" by Alfred Crimi 1960

Spaces and Planes #1" by Alfred Crimi 1950

Alfred Crimi Painting

Alfred Crimi Painting

In 1949, he held a successful one-man show at the Ferargil Galleries in New York City. Ferargil also handled other well-known artists including Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton. The show received effusive praise from the critics; “Jewel-like” was the term used by a critic for several of his oil paintings. In 1956 he won The Emily Lowe Prize for his painting entitled “The Three Mary’s”, depicting the Annunciation. Later that year, he returned to the Village renting a new studio on 13th Street. The following year he held an exhibition at the World Eggleston Gallery on Madison Avenue. Among the paintings presented were: “Metropolis”, “Dead City”, “Out of Space-Out-of Time”, and “Rigging”. The critics gave good critical reviews but were confused with the diversity of styles. Crimi was essentially a mural painter who had turned to easel painting. However, he relentlessly experimented with new mediums, in order to more fully and originally express himself, going from realism to multi-dimensional techniques and to abstraction.

In 1959 he held a one-man exhibition at the Two Selected Artists Gallery in New York. This exhibition consisted mainly of works of the multi-dimensional style, and it included “The Cathedral”, which had been inspired by the Byzantine Cathedral in Monreale (Sicily). In 1962 the Holyoke Museum in that Massachusetts town sponsored a one-man exhibition of Crimi’s works. Then in April 1963, his artwork was highlighted in an exhibit at Lehigh University Art Galleries organized by Francis Quirk.  This was followed by an exhibition sponsored by Fordham University, New York in 1966, one at Temple Emeth in Teaneck, New Jersey, in 1969, and another in 1971 at the Ringwood Manor Museum, Ringwood, New Jersey. Moreover, he exhibited in major national and international group shows including New York City’s Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Chicago Art Institute, and The Cerneschi Art Gallery in Paris. In 1961 he was invited to participate in the Prima Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Sacra in Trieste, Italy, and in 1972 at the Cerneschi Art Gallery of Paris. He served during the years 1958-1961 with the Art Commission of the City of New York. When his three years term ended he returned to mural work while continuing easel painting. During the next ten years he was engaged by the Board of Education to execute five Venetian glass mosaics in New York City Schools – including those of Adlai Stevenson High School, Albert Einstein Jr. High School, and Public School 377.

Crimi was the recipient of more than forty awards from numerous art organizations. His articles on fresco painting, mosaics, and the multi-dimensional principle of color animation, appeared in American Artist, Today’s Art, Liturgical Art, and the Book of Knowledge.

After 18 years, he had to vacate the studio at West 13th Street, New York City. He rented another studio on West 4th Street, but left in 1978, after a 1976 flood that damaged several of his paintings and led to litigation against the landlord, he left.

His last one-man exhibition was sponsored by the Ulrich Museum of Wichita State University and featured predominantly his multi-dimensional paintings. Simultaneously, he received first prize in graphics for his famous “Mediterraneum Noon” from an exhibition sponsored by the Associated Galleries of West New York.

During the early 1980s the Crimis moved to a new apartment near the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, New York, where Alfred Crimi expanded his artistic skills yet again, doing a series of watercolors of the garden. Crimi died on January 7, 1994.

In researching this article we have learned that a number of Crimi paintings were deaccessioned by the Musuems at St. Laurence and Wichita State. We do not know if they still hold any of his works. There still are Crimi paintings at the Smithsonian.

If you are interested in adding a Crimi painting to your collection, then you are in luck! A fine one will be coming up for auction in Connecticut in late April.  You can bid on it here.  One can see how it has the feel of a mural. 

"New York Harbor" by Alfred Crimi