Ralph Della-Volpe American, 1923-2017

Overview

Ralph Eugene Della-Volpe's semi-abstract paintings of often simplified beach scenes and anonymous portraits "convey profound awareness of mood and character", and his paintings are hardly as literal as they may first appear (Arts Magazine. "New York Exhibitions". 1965). Constantly transforming what is on the canvas, the artist is never sure himself of the final composition of each work until completion because, as he says, "Everything I paint is based on my own feelings about life, my own insights, my own observations and my own needs for expression."

 

Della-Volpe first studied painting at the National Academy of Design before joining the Army during World War II. As a soldier, the artist saw action on Utah Beach, and his experiences undoubtedly affected his later artistic style. Tom Wolf, of Bard College, explained that the paintings Della-Volpe produced after his return from service in World War II "project feelings of melancholy." expressed in the tense expressions in the figures' faces. The "coloristic exuberance" found in the works beginning in the mid 1960's, with their vibrant fuscias and yellows, seem to offset what could be an otherwise solemn tone to many of his works at the time.

 

Upon his return from military service, Della-Volpe took a teaching position as the first artist-in-residence at Bennett College in Millbrook, New York where he remained for 28 years, serving as chairman of the Art Department for most of that time. Obviously influenced by impressionism's preoccupation with the treatment of light, Della-Volpe's own works have a "faultless tonal quality, with its sense of failing light—the areas of silvery gray deepening into rosy tans" (Arts Magazine. "In the Galleries". 1960). The simplified scenes and portraits express the artist's love of open space and his aim to evoke emotion through each piece rather than recognition of what exactly is painted on the canvas. Della-Volpe has exhibited widely throughout his career and has lectured on art at colleges, universities, and galleries across the country.

Exhibitions

Warren Street Gallery, Hudson, NY (1994 Retrospective)

Babcock Galleries, New York, NY (One Man Show)

Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC (One Man Show)

East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN (One Man Show)

Albany Museum, Albany, NY

Audubon Artists, New York, NY

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY

Butler Art Institute Annual, Youngstown, OH

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Grand Central Art Galleries, New York, NY

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA

Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, CT

Museums and Public Collections

Art Students' League, New York

Chase Manhattan Bank, New York

Library of Congress/ Pennell Collection, Washington, D.C.

The New U.S. Treasury Building, Washington, D.C.

Slater Museum, Norwich, CT

Wichita Art Association, Wichita, KS

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