Artist Biography: Giorgio Cavallon

Giorgio Cavallon (1904-1989)

National Academy of Design New York, NY, 1926.
Charles W. Hawthorne Provincetown, MA, 1927.
Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art, New York, NY, 1934.

Louis Comfort Tiffany Fellowship, 1929.
John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, 1966.

Selected Solo Exhibitions
Bottega d’Arte, Vicenza, Italy, 1932.
A.C.A. Gallery New York, NY, 1934.
Eighth Street Playhouse Gallery New York, NY, 1940.
Egan Gallery New York, NY, 1946, 1948, 1951, 1954.
Kootz Gallery, New York, NY, 1961, 1963, 1965.
Weatherspoon Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC, 1964.
A.M. Sachs Gallery, New York, NY, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976.
Gruenebaum Gallery, New York, NY, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1986.
Patricia Learmonth Gallery, New York, NY, 1977.
Neuberger Museum, Purchase, NY, 1977.
Paintings: 1952-1989, Manny Silverman Gallery Los Angeles, CA, 1989.
Paintings from the 1960’s, Jason McCoy Inc. New York, NY, 1989.
Giorgio Cavallon (1904-1989): A Retrospective View, The William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

Selected Group Exhibitions
Biennale, Ca’Pesaro Venice, Italy, 1932.
Bottega d’Arte Vicenza, Italy, 1932.
American Art Today, New York World’s Fair New York, NY, 1939.
Post-Abstract Painters, France, America, Hawthorne Memorial Gallery
Provincetown, MA, 1950.
Young Painters in the U.S. and France, Sidney Janis Gallery New York, 1950.
Abstract Art in America, Museum of Modern Art New York, NY, 1951.
Drawings and Watercolors, Museum of Modern Art New York, NY, 1952.
Italy Rediscovered, Munson-Williams Proctor Institute, Utica, NY, 1955.
University of North Carolina, Greensboro Greensboro, NC, 1956.
Stable Gallery New York, NY, 1957, 1959.
Whitney Museum Annual, Whitney Museum of American Art New York, NY, 1959, 1961, 1965.
Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL, 1959, 1961, 1965.
Documenta II, Kassel, Germany, 1959.
Five Contemporary Painters in a Twenty-Five Year Retrospective, Camino
Gallery New York, NY, 1959.
60 American Painters, Walker Art Center Minneapolis, MN, 1960.
American Abstract Expressionists and Imagists, The Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum, New York, NY, 1961.
Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, PA, 1959, 1961, 1962.
Art in Embassies, Museum of Modern Art Bogota, Colombia, 1963, 1964.
Fourteen Americans, Abstract Watercolors, Museum of Modern Art, New York,
NY, 1963.
Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture, Krannert Art Museum
University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 1963.
Recent American Paintings, Art Museum, University of Texas Austin, TX, 1964.
Large Scale American Paintings, The Jewish Museum New York, NY, 1966.
Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Philadelphia, PA, 1966.
From Synchronism Forward- A View of Abstract Art in America, The American
Federation of Arts Circulating Exhibition, 1968.
The 1930’s, Painting and Sculpture in America, The Whitney Museum of
American Art New York, NY, 1968.
Betty Parsons Private Collection, Finch College Museum New York, NY, 1968.
Painting as Painting, The Art Museum University of Texas, Austin, TX, 1968.
American Geometric Abstraction/ 1930’s, Zabriskie Gallery, American Federation of Arts, New York, NY, 1972.
Bicentennial Exhibition, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Smithsonian
Institution, Washington, D.C., 1976.
Three Italo-American Artists, Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice, Italy;
Castello Svevo, Bari, Italy, 1988.
The Provocative Years 1935-1945: Hans Hofmann School and Its Students in
Provincetown, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA, 1990.
Giorgio Cavallon (1904-1989): A Retrospective View, The William Benton
Museum of Art University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 1990.
Paintings from the 1950’s, Jason McCoy Inc. New York, NY, 1990.
Watercolors, Jason McCoy Inc. New York, NY, 1991.
Giorgio Cavallon and Giuseppe Santomaso, Manny Silverman Gallery Los
Angeles, CA, 1991.
Summer Group Show, Jason McCoy Inc. New York, NY, 1991.
Baruch College Art Gallery, New York, NY, 1992.
Seven Paintings from the 1950’s, Jason McCoy Inc. New York, NY, 1996.

Permanent Collections
Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.
Museum of The Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI.
Grey Gallery, New York University, New York.
University Art Museum, Berkeley, CA.
The Michener Collection, The University of Texas at Austin, TX.
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
Hilles Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC.
Union Carbide Corporation, New York.
Continental Grain Corporation, New York.
Chase Manhattan Bank, New York.
Singer Manufacturing Company, New York.
Ciba-Geigy Corporation, Ardsley, New York.
Marine Midland Trust Company, Ardsley, New York.
Marine Midland Trust Company, Buffalo, New York.
Acvo Delta Corporation.
Tishman Corporation, New York.
American Republic Insurance Company, Des Moines, IA.
Avon Products, Incorporated, New York.
The Bank of New York, New York.
Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, NJ.


Giorgio Cavallon, a pioneer Abstract Expressionist who brought to American painting a Mediterranean feeling for color and light, died last night at New York Hospital. He was 85 years old and lived in Manhattan.

While not widely known to the general art public, Mr. Cavallon’s airy, luminous, cautiously daring work has long had a llllowing among poets and painters. ”There are those who escape fame, but not respect,” wrote the Abstract Expressionist scholar Francis V. O’Connor in a poem to Mr. Cavallon that was published in the Art Bulletin last year.

William Agee, a historian of American art, said: ”He never made the official list of the big-name artists of that generation of Abstract Expressionists. I had conditioned myself to think of him as a lesser artist. But he kept showing us to be wrong in that.”

In Mr. Cavallon’s paintings, rectangles of color, their edges soft and irregular, are woven into screens or veils that seem diaphanous yet impenetrable, light, yet capable of absorbing all the space behind and in front of the surface. Allowing Colors to Relate
The paintings are carefully but intuitively balanced. Learning from Cezanne and Mondrian and then studying with Hans Hofmann, Mr. Cavallon put down one color here and another there, then tested and expanded their relationship and opened it up into others, finally tying everything together with a precision few of his peers could match.

Writing about the experience of a Cavallon exhibition, Frank O’Hara, the poet and critic, wrote in 1958: ”It resembles a town in southern Italy the walls of which have absorbed the sunlight for centuries and even on a cloudy or raining day give off the intense light of what they have absorbed.” The ”final luminosity,” Mr. O’Hara wrote, is ”achieved by white.”

Mr. Cavallon was born on March 3, 1904, in the village of Sorio in the province of Venice. His parents were Augusto Cavallon, a cabinetmaker who worked in both Italy and the United States, and Agnese Scarsi.

When Augusto served in the Italian Army during World War I, he sent his two daughters to a convent and his son to the farm of his brother-in-law, Dominico Cavallon. A Farm Child’s Life

”When Giorgio was a small child,” said the painter Vita Petersen, a longtime friend, ”he had to get up at 4 and bring the cows to the field and he was so tired that he took the oxen by the horns and went to sleep, swinging between the horns.”

During the war Mr. Cavallon drew in the earth. Sometimes he scratched drawings on bombshells.

He came to the United States in 1920 with his father and two sisters and settled in Springfield, Mass. In 1926, he moved to New York, where he remained – except for 1930 to 1933, when he returned to Italy.

He began as a figurative painter and studied at the National Academy of Design. He began exploring abstraction in the 1930’s but like other Abstract Expressionists, did not take the full plunge until the late 1940’s.

In 1936 he was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group, a contentious and polemical organization that championed the cause of abstract art. The group’s link between political radicalism and abstraction helps explain Mr. Cavallon’s unshakable faith in abstraction and the consistently upbeat, almost utopian feeling of his paintings. He Did It His Way

Mr. Cavallon was remarkably self-reliant. He preferred to do everything by himself, by hand. He built his own freezer, stove and sofa, made his duck press, motorized his pasta machine and was known to spend days disassembling and assembling cars.

He made his own paints. ”He ground his own pigments, mixed it with oil and put it in the tubes,” Mrs. Petersen said.

He had a reputation as an excellent cook. Mushrooms were a passion, and he used to hunt for them with the composer John Cage. His recipes for spaghetti with clam-and-anchovy sauce, for spit-roasted leg of lamb and for risotto with mussels found their way into Craig Claiborne’s cooking column in The New York Times in 1969.

Mr. Cavallon exhibited with several New York galleries, including Egan, A. M. Sachs, Gruenebaum and Jason McCoy. He was given a retrospective by the Neuberger Museum in Purchase, N.Y., in 1977. Works in Many Collections

Last year, his work was shown at the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation in Venice. His work is in the collection of numerous major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. In March there is to be a Cavallon retrospective at the William Benton Museum of the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

In 1983 he was given the Marjorie Peabody Waite Award, granted to an ”older artist for continuing achievement” by the American Institute of Arts and Letters.

His marriage to Fabiola Caron, a singer, ended in divorce. He later married Linda Lindeberg, a painter, who died in 1973.

He is survived by his sisters, Domenica Italia Shulman of Storrs, Conn., and Marie Ida Kitzmeyer of West Brookfield, Mass., and St. Petersburg, Fla.