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 Joseph Manfredi  (1913 - 1996)

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Lived/Active: California/Arizona      Known for: abstraction, marine genre

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Ad Code: 4
Joseph Manfredi
from Auction House Records.
City Skyline
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following was submitted June 2004 by Catherine Manfredi Yronwode, daughter of the artist.

My father Joseph MANFREDI was born on October 3, 1913. His birth name was Giuseppe Francesco MANFREDI. He was born at home in the "Little Italy" area of New York City, at 113 West Houston Street, NYC, NY.

As my father Giuseppe MANFREDI adopted American ways, he chose to be known as Joseph MANFREDI or Joseph F. MANFREDI and, after reaching adulthood, as Fred MANFREDI. I knew him primarily as Fred MANFREDI. He was an abstract artist when I was a child, but also had a long career as a petroleum geologist and geological cartographer for Standard Oil of California.

[Circa 1990], my father moved to Nogales, Arizona, to resume his old life as an abstract painter. He died there, at Holy Cross Hospital, on September 13, 1996 from prostate cancer. He was 82.

The painting by my father that you show at your site was one that was used on the cover a brochure for a gallery showing by the Bombshell Artists' Group and which also ran in a newspaper article on the group and its members during the early years of WW II. He also painted a few portraits around this time, although he professed himself dissatisfied with them.

At some point during World War two, my father and mother moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and my father worked in a shipyard, where he made a series of wonderful semi-abstract paintings of shipyard workers using the paints found in the shipyard itself --rust-red primer, battleship grey, and signal yellow.

After the War, he moved toward non-representation and total abstraction, often utilizing variations of shapes that were personally meaningful to him and that appeared over and over in his paintings, in various contexts. Among these shapes, which generally appeared in distorted or cut-and-reassembled form, one can often recognize the skeleton of a fish, a bird sitting on a wire, or a rounded shape with a hole in it, apparently derived from a naturally holed rock he had picked up on his travels -- and which he carried with him for decades. He also made many paintings with applied surfaces of sand as well as color-fields of paint. These works are quite different than his early cityscapes. They are notable for the precision with which the fields and lines of paint were laid down. Many of them feature unusual "earthy" color combinations, including chartreuse and deep forest green with stripes of bright cyan, ochre, and white.

The older he got, the brighter the colors he used, until, toward the end of his life, he was working in an array of festive hues such as turquoise, cerulean, rose, white, peach, sienna, and yellow.

Even though he disdained representative art in his later life, he enjoyed sketching rural California landscapes on paper with pastels and watercolor -- although he never kept these pieces around the studio and never painted such scenes on canvas.

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