Work of the Week – July 16, 2014
Carmen Cicero · Landscape with Airplane, 1963 ca, Lithograph, 22.87 x 26.25 inches
By Michelle Alwine
Carmen Cicero was born on August 14, 1926. From a young age, Cicero expressed an interest in the arts and went on to study at the New Jersey State Teachers College, now known as Kean University. After his studies from 1947-1951, Carmen Cicero dabbled in a graduate painting program at Hunter College, NY. Studying under Hans Hofmann and Robert Motherwell, Cicero began embracing and exploring abstraction.
In his early work, Cicero combined abstract expressionism with surrealist automatism, many of which were created using light brushstrokes and free geometric shapes.He would often incorporate literary motifs into his work, such as the creatures of Franz Kafka. This budding artist had his first solo exhibition in Peridot Gallery, NY in 1957.
In 1971, Cicero’s Englewood, NJ studio caught fire and most of the artist’s body of work were lost in the event. From this tragedy branched a new stylistic change in the painter’s art work. A combination of landscape and wit began to take form in his newest art. Cicero referred to this as “figurative abstraction.” Between the years on 1970 and 2001, Cicero taught painting at Montclair State University in New Jersey. In 1991, he received his MFA from the University and in 2007, received the Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
In Landscape with Airplane, Cicero uses sharp shades of yellow, orange and red to catch the viewer’s attention. Although there is no definite structure to the landscape below, the onlooker can almost sense the division of the buildings. The painting puts off a light and airy persona, and the airplane is hardly noticed upon first glance. Cicero’s use of lines and color contrast make this an interesting piece to behold.