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Allan D'Arcangelo (American, 1930-1998)


Also known as:  Arcangelo, Alan d'; D'Arcangelo, Allan M.

Birth Place: Buffalo (Erie county, New York state, United States)

Allan D’Arcangelo was a post-war artist who worked in abstraction, figures, pop iconography, and reductionist landscapes. His style is characterized by its fusion of Hard Edge painting, Minimalism, and early on, Pop. For D’Arcangelo, the meaning in his work was more important at times because of his contentious relationship with the times he lived in. He often commented on the exploitation of women, environmental destruction, and the Vietnam War. His staunch morality landed him outside of the mainstream art world, and likely cost him much of the recognition he is due.

D’Arcangelo’s ties to the Pop movement likely derives from his use of icons such as Superman, Marilyn Monroe, the Kennedy’s, and common American commercial symbols. What separates him is his use of these icons to portray a history of America based on what it valued during his time, and what the actual landscape was. In place of Hudson River Valley scenes for example, D’Arcangelo breaks down the highway landscape into symbols such as traffic sign arrows, barricade striping, one point perspective roads, and gas station signs. His landscapes are void of detail, and become the overbearing imagery that litter the actual highways. In works like Marilyn, 1962 D’Arcangelo dilutes the features of his subject to paper doll construction, likely a comment on the creation of such icons in American society. The woman becomes an object to be assembled as the viewer sees fit.

D’Arcangelo was an early adopter of acrylic paint, which seems to fit this artistic approach very well. The painting of Jackie Kennedy with daughter Caroline in his Madonna and child, 1963, flattens out even more when the featureless faces are rendered in the plasticized medium of acrylic paint. The woman becomes an object to be assembled as the viewer sees fit. Much of D’Arcangelo’s later works are prints of similarly themed origin, with a combining of the female body and the highway in works like Smoke, 1980 and Smoking blond, 1990.

D’Arcangelo passed away in New York City at the end of 1998.

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