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 Pascal Cucaro  (1915 - 2004)

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Lived/Active: California/Ohio      Known for: clowns, marine, animal and portrait painting

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Pascal Cucaro
An example of work by Pascal Cucaro
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Pascal (Pat) Cucaro was born in Youngstown, Ohio on November 6, 1915, to Italian immigrant parents.  He worked in the circus during his childhood summers -- the experiences giving him a lifelong interest in clowns, and circus life.

His painting style is characterized by a bold gestural quality, complimented by a thick application of paint.  In some cases, the artwork has paint so thick it seems to have been applied straight from the tube.  After serving in World War II, he attended the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, then returned to Europe to spend time in France, Spain, and Italy to study art on his own.

He became part of the art scene during the lively 'Beat' years in San Francisco's North Beach section, and exhibited his work at the Black Cat Cafe, The Iron Pot, The Lion Book Shop, The City Lights Book Shop, Vesuvio's, and The Hungry I.

A one-man art show held at the Butler Institute of American Art at his hometown in 1958 was followed by other exhibitions in California, as well as Hawaii and Japan.  He was nominated for the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1965.

He has traveled extensively abroad to find new inspirations for his work -- to Japan, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, China, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Tahiti, and throughout Europe.  He has explored a variety of subjects: clowns, circus scenes, boats, street scenes, still lifes, coffee shops, crowd themes (what Cucaro calls "people-people" paintings) animals, abstracts, portraits, and mediums such as oils, acrylics, plastic, ceramics, watercolors, tempera, etchings, india ink, ink/wash, and prints.

To see him with his sunned complexion, his beret cocked over one ear, his chin and his nose, one would easily take him for a child of the Basque country or Burn.  His Latin origin explains this resemblance, and it was likewise this Latin blood that drove him to travel in France and Spain.  From his Parisian sojourn, from his studies in private studios, his long strolls along the length of the Seine or across the French countryside, he has brought back pictures which some feel vibrate with some of the magic of his masters; Cezanne, Lautrec, Utrillo and Dufy.

The walls of his studio smile at you when the sun envelops them with its dust-laden light. They are hung with scenes evocative of the picturesque Paris discovered by the painter -- hidden spots, fountains forgotten by the tourist agencies, places where artists, painters and musicians dream again.  This is the world of Pat Cucaro.  Some of the scenes are of night-spots painted with humor and nostalgia a little in the manner of Lautrec, while others are abstract creations that are smoothly executed.

Cucaro talks about only two things, painting and love.  Those, he says, are his only interests. "I paint all the time, day and night. I have no television, no radio and only sometimes read the headlines of the newspapers."  With dark, piercing eyes, a mobile face and expressive hands always on the move, the artist has been painting for over 70 years.

From the beginning his work sold. "I was lucky," he says. "I didn't have to push hard to sell, and because of this I was able to work in peace. San Francisco has been good to me.  I owe it to a woman who had faith in me from the beginning and believed in my talent.  She bought my paintings as fast as I could make them and helped to get my name known."

A continuous showing of Cucaro's work is maintained by Banducci's Hungry I -- a celebrated nightspot in the North Beach section of San Francisco.  He is presently living in Marin County, across the Golden Gate bridge from San Francisco, and is still actively involved in his artwork. 

The City of Sausalito helped him celebrate his 85th birthday on November 6, 2000.

A comment about Cucaro: "The great PASCAL (Pat) CUCARO gave me a book ("Cucaro," Sentinal Books, 1969) when I was a boy in the early 70's. My father used to own an art gallery in Sausalito when it really was a sleepy seaside artists community and during the summer I used to run around downtown all day. Cucaro used to hang out in the cafes, often talking to mesmerized young artists about art and life.  He drew two pictures for me with a sharpie pen smearing the ink with his fingers for a paint-like effect. I remember that he always had ink or paint on his hands.  And he smelled like garlic! :)  He was a great guy, and that was a fun time of my life."

Source: Av Fine Arts

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Note from an anonymous source:
Taken from the back of a painting sold in San Francisco in 1968:

"An American Giant, Pascal Cucaro, called Pat, is being called one of America's most exciting artists.  He was recently nominated for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the nation's highest civilian awards, for his outstanding achievement in art.

To see him with his sunned complexion, his Basque beret cocked over one ear, his chin and his nose, one would easily take him for a child of the Basque country or Burn.

His Spanish origin explains this resemblance, and it was likewise this Latin blood that drove him to travel in France and Spain.  From his Parisian sojourn, from his studies in private studios, his long strolls along the length of the Seine or across the French countryside, he has brought back pictures which some feel vibrate with some of the magic of his masters; Cezanne, Lautrec, Utrillo and Dufy.

The walls of his studio smile at you when the sun envelops them with its dust-laden light.  They are hung with scenes evocative of the picturesque Paris discovered by the painter -- hidden spots, fountains forgotten by the tourist agencies, places where artists, painters and musicians dream again.  This is the world of Pat Cucaro.  Some of the scenes are of night-spots painted with humor and nostalgia a little in the manner of Lautrec, while others are abstract creations that are smoothly executed.

Cucaro talks about only two things, painting and love. Those, he says, are his only interests. 'I paint all the time, day and night. I have no television, no radio and I only sometimes read the headlines of the news papers'.

With dark, piercing eyes, a mobile face and expressive hands always on the move, the artist has been painting for 20 years since he moved here to study at the California School of Arts. From the beginning his work sold.

'I was lucky,' he says. 'I didn't have to push hard to sell, and because of this I was able to work in peace. San Francisco has been good to me. I owe it to a woman who had faith in me from the beginning and believed in my talent. She bought my paintings as fast as I could make them and helped to get my name known.' Now Cucaro's paintings are selling quite rapidly.

A continuous showing of Cucaro's works is maintained by Banducci's Hungry I -- a celebrated night spot in the North Beach section of San Francisco.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Pascal Cucaro was known for his paintings of clowns; he also did abstract subject. Cucaro maintained a studio in North Beach, and lived in Sausalito, California. He studied at the Butler Art Institute, in Paris with Ferdinand Leger, and at the School of Fine Art in San Francisco.

Source:
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

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