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 Anthony J. (Tony) Sisti  (1901 - 1983)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: easel and mural painting-landscape, portrait, genre and teaching

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Tony Sisti is primarily known as Anthony J. (Tony) Sisti

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"Buffalo Harbor", 20 x 30", oil on board
"Buffalo Harbor", 20 x 30", oil on board
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Anthony (Tony) J. Sisti, long-time painter, teacher, muralist, portrait painter, demonstrator, collector, patron-of-the-arts, art dealer and professional boxer was known for an art career of landscapes, portraits, boxing subjects, murals, pen & ink, genre, and drawing.

Tony Sisti was a muralist and drawing specialist, and maintained a long-standing art gallery in Buffalo for many years beginning in 1955.  As a WPA artist during the Depression, he did murals in Western New York and chose boxing subjects, something he knew first hand because he was Golden Gloves Bantam-Weight Champion for the State of New York.  From 1932 to 1938, he was a teacher of painting and anatomy at the Buffalo Art Institute, and then he taught at the School of Applied Design for Women in New York City.  He also painted portraits of political and business leaders, people like President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gov. Al Smith, and the Mayor of Buffalo, the Hon. Frank A. Sedita along with a number of Buffalo City officials, and Fiat Motor Company President Giovanni Agnelli. 

He even traveled with Ernest Hemmingway to the Congo.  There is currently a gallery section in Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY, named after him with many of his works in their permanent collection.

Sisti was born April 25, 1901 in Greenwich Village, NYC, and studied in Buffalo at the Albright Art School with Urquhart Wilcox (American, 1876-1941).  From 1925-1929, he studied in Europe and attended the Royal Academy in Florence, Italy and earned a Doctoral Degree in painting with Felice Carena (Italian, 1879-1966).

He also studied anatomy at St. Mary's Hospital in Florence, Italy under Chirugi, as well as at the Académie Julian and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, and at the Royal Academy in Munich, Germany.

Chronology:

1901- Born, April 25, Sullivan Street, Greenwich Village, NYC.

1911- Moved with family to Buffalo, NY.

c1916- Began to participate in local amateur boxing matches, Buffalo, NY.

1918- Started his professional boxing career as “Kid Tony” and won the Amateur Golden Gloves Bantam-Weight Championship of New York State.

1918-1930- Fought in over 100 professional boxing bouts, lost 15, and earned enough money to allow him to travel to Europe and study art in 1925, and enough while there to pay for his tuition at the Florence Academy.

circa early-mid 1920’s- Studied at the Albright Art School with Urquhart Wilcox (American, 1876-1941), Buffalo, NY.

c1924- Married Carmella Leone, and had a daughter.  Sisti continued to box and also support his family with his art career and earn extra income by working as a truck driver, while attending the Albright Art School by night.  

1925-29- Studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy.  Earned a Doctoral Degree in painting with Felice Carena (Italian, 1879-1966) during that time, and also studied anatomy at St. Mary's Hospital in Florence, Italy under Chirugi, at the Académie Julian and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, and at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany.  Sisti continued boxing during his time in Europe to supplement his income.

1929- Traveled to Africa, Manchuria, Morocco and the Philippines.

circa 1930- Without money to move back to the United States, Sisti boxed in Rome, winning enough money to return to Buffalo, with the thought of retiring from boxing.

1930- Moved back to Buffalo, NY and soon set up a studio at 1139 Main Street in the city. Exhibited, Alright Art Gallery (now the Albright Knox Art Gallery), Buffalo, NY.  Exhibited, group show, Annual of American Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg, PA.

1932- Exhibited, Alright Art Gallery, (Prize), Buffalo, NY.

1932-38- Taught painting and anatomy at the Buffalo Art Institute, Buffalo, NY.

1934- Exhibited, group show, Salons of America, for the painting Circus, NYC. Exhibited, Buffalo Society of Artists (Fellowship Prize), for the painting Tuscan Farm (1927), Buffalo, NY.  Exhibited, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Annual Exhibition, Philadelphia, PA.

1935- Exhibited, Second national Exhibition of American Art, again for the painting Circus, held at the Rockefeller Center, NYC.

circa mid 1930’s- Worked on several WPA projects in the Western New York area during the Depression years.

1936- Exhibited, Western New York Annual, Patteran Society, for the painting New England Port (James Carey Evans Memorial Prize), Albright Art Gallery, who also purchased the painting for their permanent collection, Buffalo, NY.

1937- Spring, solo show, Howard University’s Rankin Gallery, Washington, DC.

1938- Exhibited, group show, Great Lakes Exhibition, for the painting Sunday Afternoon at the Rapids, Patteran Society in conjunction with the Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, and also traveled to six other venues.

1939- Taught as a life class instructor at the School of Applied Design for Women, NYC, flying from Buffalo to Manhattan each weekend to teach for three days, and while maintaining a small studio in Greenwich Village.  Sisti entered the boxing ring one more time to supplement his funds for a solo exhibition of his works at the prominent Argent Gallery in NYC,  Eight years since his last fight, Sisti climbed into the ring with Freddy Sulanto at St. Nicholas Arena in NYC, Monday, February 20th, and knocked Sulanto out with a right-cross, one minute and ten seconds into the first round.  Exhibited, solo show, of 50 works in oil, watercolor, drawings and prints made over ten years, Argent Gallery, NYC.

c1941-45- During the WWII years, Sisti worked for the Bell Aircraft Corporation, produced a series of drawings depicting workers in various stages of manufacturing aircraft, Buffalo, NY.

1945- Exhibited, February, “The Workers in the Bell Plant of the Human Side of Plane Manufacturing”, which consisted of 70 Sisti drawings, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1946- Built and opened an exhibition gallery adjacent to his studio, which spotlighted his own work, Buffalo, NY.

1947- Exhibited, Buffalo Society of Artists (Prize), Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, Western New York Artists (Prize), Buffalo, NY. November, exhibited, group show, The Ring and the Glove-A Survey of Boxing, five Sisti boxing-themed paintings were shown, Museum of the City of New York, NYC.

1948- Purchased and remodeled a 125 year old house at 469 Franklin Street, which became his studio and several apartments, Allentown area, Buffalo, NY.

1953- March, solo show, Community Music School, which covered 27 years of painting and included many of his most well known paintings and drawings, Buffalo, NY.  Exhibited, Buffalo Society of Artists, annual exhibition, (Gold Medal Prize) for the painting The Boxer, Buffalo, NY.

1955- Sisti opened his Studio Gallery to the public, which was in the basement of his Franklin Street location, Buffalo, NY.

1958- Served as Chairman of the First Allentown Art Festival Exhibition, in association with the Allentown Village Society, which included paintings, sculptures and crafts, attracting over 25,000 people and which is still a popular annual event to this day.

From 1958 through 1970’s- Sisti maintained his association with the Allentown Art Festival, Buffalo, NY.

1957- Sisti held his First Spring Exhibition at his Gallery, a presentation of rejected works by local artists from the Western New York Art Exhibition at the Albright Art Gallery, which included Charles E. Burchfield (American, 1893-1967), Virginia Cuthbert (American, 1908-2001), Martha Visser’t Hooft (American, 1906-1904), Walter Prochownik (American, 1923-2000) and many others, Buffalo, NY.

1959- Exhibited, held own solo retrospective show of his own works from the 1920’s through the following decades, Sisti Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1979- Exhibited, solo show, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY.  Sisti made a major gift to the Burchfield Art Center (now called the Burchfield-Penney Art Center), including 26 paintings and drawings by Charles E. Burchfield as well as 32 of his own works, Buffalo, NY.

1981- Spring, the City of Buffalo named a park in his honor on the occasion of Sisti's eightieth birthday, by James D. Griffin the Mayor of the City of Buffalo and William L. Marcy Jr. Delaware District Councilman, with Tony Sisti Park being located near the intersection of Franklin Street and North Street in the Allentown area, Buffalo, NY.

1983- Died, December 15, at the age of 82, Buffalo, NY.

1984- Four months after Sisti’s death, his wife Carmella died, Buffalo, NY.

2007- Exhibited, March 30-April 28, group show, “A Tradition of Still Lifes: Theresa Hinchy Grau and other selected Western New York artists”, two paintings exhibited “Still Life in Green Vase”, 12 x 16”, oil on canvas, and “Tulips in Blue Vase”, 20 x 16, oil on canvas, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

2008- November 22, The new Burchfield-Penney Art Center Museum opened and had dedicated one of their galleries to Sisti named the “Anthony J. Sisti Gallery”, which is part of the John R. Oishei Foundation Gallery located on the first floor of the Museum, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY.

2009- Exhibited, April 11-August 10th, retro show, “Anthony J. Sisti: A Forgotten Regionalist, Selections From the Collection.”, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY.

Exhibited Also At: Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), NYC; The Museum of the City of New York, NYC; Riverside Museum, NYC; California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA; Howard University, Washington, DC; Syracuse Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; and Grand Central Art Gallery, NYC.

Museums: Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Permanent Collection, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

Memberships: Buffalo Society of Artists, Buffalo, NY; Guild of Applied Arts, Buffalo, NY; The Patteran Society (President 1957), Buffalo, NY; The Basilica Club.

Works: Mussolini Gallery, Rome, Italy; Buffalo City Hospital, a circus-themed mural (Unfortunately, the mural no longer exists), Buffalo, NY; (Mural) University at Buffalo (boxing subjects), Buffalo, NY; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Federation of Italian Societies of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.

(Rewritten & compiled chronologically by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY, 10/2009, Sources: With permission from AskArt.com, prior biographical information from the archives of AskArt, Who was Who in American Art 1564-1975, by Peter Hastings Falk (editor-in-chief), 1999; artsjournal.com, online article, “Sisti Show: Perfect for Burchfield Penney’s Regional Mission”, by  Judith H. Dobrzynski, July, 9, 2009, about the exhibition “Anthony J. Sisti: A Forgotten Regionalist, Selections From the Collection.”, at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, 2009; papillongallery.com, biographical information; Wikipedia.com; info and photo of the Tony Sisti Park plaque from Dean Brownrout, of 20th Century Finest, Buffalo, NY, and from his article in Artvoice, “Tony Sisti: Gone, But Hardly Forgotten”, April 9-15, 2009, v8n15, pg. 16; Heritage, magazine article, “Buffalo’s Two-Canvas Knockout”, by David Martin co-owner of Martin-Zambito Fine Arts, Seattle, WA, and art historian, Volume 12 Number 3, Fall 2009.)


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A long-time painter and teacher in Buffalo, New York, Anthony "Tony" Sisti was also a muralist and drawing specialist.  As a WPA* artist during the Depression, he did murals in western New York including one at the Rivera Restaurant in Buffalo, New York.  The mural, whose subject was male laborers, was 100 feet long and 9 feet high.

Often he chose boxing subjects, something he knew first hand because he was Bantam Weight Champion for the state of New York.  From 1932 to 1938, Sisti was a teacher of painting and anatomy at the Buffalo Art Institute*, and then he taught at the New York School of Applied Design for Women* in New York City.

Sisti was born in Greenwich Village and studied in Buffalo at the Albright Art School* with Urquhart Wilcox.  After that he attended the Florence Academy of Art* Florence, Italy from 1925 to 1931, and there earned a doctor's degree with Felice Carena.  He also studied anatomy at St. Mary's Hospital in Florence.

Memberships included the Buffalo Society of Art, and he exhibited his work with the Salons of America*, the Museum of Modern Art and the Albright Knox Art Gallery.

Sources:
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
Bakkom Collection, Courtesy of Matthew Bakkom, St. Paul, Minnesota

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx



** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.
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