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About the Artist

Lawrence Calcagno was born on March 23, 1913, in Potrero Hill, San Francisco, California. His parents, Vincent and Anna de Rosa Calcagno were Italian immigrants. At age ten he moved to the family ranch-homestead in the Santa Lucia Mountains, Monterey County where he spent the following ten years.[3] In 1935 he left the homestead and joined the merchant marines and traveled all the way to Asia.


In 1941 at the beginning of World War II Calcagno joined the United States Army Air Corps, where he served for three years. During his service he was recognized as an artist. His drawing titled: "Watch in the Night" won first prize in the national Army art contest in the Southwest Regional competition.


Benefiting from the G.I. Bill in 1947 Lawrence Calcagno enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, California. His teachers were Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still & Ad Reinhardt along with instructors, Edward Corbett and Richard Diebenkorn. In 1950 he left California School of Fine Arts for Europe. He went to Paris, France to study at L’Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. In 1951 he went to Florence to study the Renaissance. He enrolled at the Instituto d’Arte Statale.


Beauford Delaney and Lawrence Calcagno and unlikely pair, the two became friends in Paris in the early 1950s and remained close over the next twenty years.


But Delaney and Calcagno had many things in common. Both men committed themselves wholeheartedly to lyrical abstraction, though Delaney's work was ultimately influenced more by Claude Monet's fluid water-lily paintings than by the color-field painters so important in Calcagno's formation as an artist. Both men shared an interest in the philosophical underpinnings of their abstract work. Calcagno's abstract "landscapes of the mind"—with their recognizable and consistent horizons—derived in part from the artist's sense of the universal, yet mysterious harmony of nature. Through Delaney, Calcagno also became friends with James Baldwin and the three travelled together.


The relationship between Beauford and Larry Calcagno can be summarized in a single phrase that Beauford wrote in a letter to Calcagno in 1968, in which he described a “deathless kinship that is constant [and] is always alive and close between us.”


He continued to work and study in Paris until 1955. During this time, Calcagno became acquainted with Martha Jackson, who mounted his first one-man at her New York gallery in 1955.


He developed a gift for teaching as well as painting, working at New York University and eventually Carnegie Mellon University.


In 1956 Calcagno accepted the position of assistant professor in the art department at the Albright Art School in the University at Buffalo, New York where he stayed until 1958. He went on to teach from 1958 to 1959 at the University of Illinois, Urbana. In 1960 he moved to New York and became a part-time instructor at New York University.


Calcagno was friends with the African American artist Jack Whitten. In 1964 Calcagno supported Whitten alongside artists Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Wayne Thiebaud to secure Whitten a grant for minority artists from the John Hay Whitney Fellowship.


In 1965 Calcagno became Andrew Mellon Professor in Painting at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he stayed until 1968. Calcagno was a fellow at the McDowell and Yaddo artist colonies in 1960s.

Artist CV




1945: The Little Gallery 

1948: Lucien Labaudt Gallery 

1954: Lucien Labaudt Gallery 

1955: Studio Paul Facchetti, Paris,

1955: Martha Jackson Gallery 

1956: Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo

1959: Fairweather-Hardin Gallery 

1961: Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City,

1965: Hewlett Gallery 

1965: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 

1965: Houston Museum of Fine Arts,

1965: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh,

1967: Westmoreland County Museum of Art, Pennsylvania,

1968: Honolulu Academy of Arts 

1970: Ithaca College Museum of Art 

1973: Smithsonian Institution 

1976: Contemporary Arts Center, Honolulu 

1987: Anita Shapolsky Gallery 

1992: David Anderson Gallery 

1999: Canfield Gallery 

2000: The Albuquerque Museum



1949: San Francisco Museum of Art 

1955: Whitney Museum of American Art 

1958: Brussels Worlds Fair 

1958: Whitney Museum of American Art 

1960: Walker Art Center 

1961: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 

1963: Whitney Museum of American Art 

1966: National Collection of Fine Arts 

1967: Whitney Museum of American Art 

1990: Anita Shapolsky Gallery


Smithsonian Institution 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. 

Currier Gallery of Art 

Guilford College Art Gallery 

Westmoreland Museum of American Art 

Brooklyn Museum of Art 

The Oakland Museum of California 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 

Whitney Museum of American Art 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

California Palace of the Legion of Honor 

New York State Art Commission 

New York University Art Collection


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