Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Master Illustrator Antonio Petruccelli Exhibit Opens

Antonio Petruccelli: Master Illustrator Exhibition at the Frank L. Melega Art Museum Opens October 8th

The Twentieth Century had relatively few illustrators worthy of the title "Master Illustrator". Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth come to mind. The Frank L. Melega Art Museum, located in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, will be displaying the original artworks of a true master illustrator, Antonio Petruccelli (1907-1994). Mr. Petruccelli illustrated over twenty Fortune magazine covers between 1933 and 1945. His creations graced the covers of The New Yorker, House Beautiful, Colliers, and Vanity Fair.

The opening reception will be Saturday, October 8, from 1:00 to 5:00 PM. The public is welcome. The Frank L. Melega Art Museum is located at 71 Market Street, Brownsville, Pennsylvania. More information is available on the museum website:

Petruccelli is well known for his meticulous details, masterful airbrush techniques, and Art Deco inspired designs. The styles range from realistic to geometric. Visitors will have a rare opportunity to see the original illustrations on display exclusively at the Melega. "It is our good fortune to have Mr. Petruccelli's artworks at this time." said museum director Patrick Daugherty. "This show is a blockbuster! Every piece in the show, in addition to being a visual delight, is an education in the art of illustration. Antonio Petruccelli is unsurpassed in his use of color, painting techniques, composition, and story telling." The exhibition may be the last chance to see Petruccelli's creations in the Pittsburgh area for some time to come. Next year from October 16th to December 1st, a major Petruccelli exhibition takes place in New York City at the gallery of the prestigious Society of Illustrators.
Petruccelli at Work

Petruccelli's career started as a textile designer. His winning entry in a competition for the cover of House Beautiful led to his being the cover artist for Fortune, The New Yorker, and other quality publications. Life magazine used his talents extensively. Working closely with "Life's" team of experts, Petruccelli created complex maps populated with finely detailed images of animals, plant life or figures from history, often against the background of the planet earth, continents, or country of origin. His most famous Fortune cover from January 1937 depicts a row of champagne glasses toasting the New Year. Unfortunately, this original will not be in the Melega Art Museum show as its whereabouts are unknown.

Seeing the cover designs that were not published may surprise those attending the exhibition. We can gain insight to the challenge of an illustrator where these magazine masterpieces were for some reason or the other not chosen by the magazine's editor for publication. One example in the show is a "New Yorker" cover whose imagery comments on the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Considered one of the greatest by today's historians, the fair had difficulty attracting visitors. Petruccelli's image of a cobwebbed Trylon and Perishere, the symbols of the fair, might have been too forthright as a reflection of the times.

The exhibition will feature more than a dozen original illustrations, plus drawings, and a comprehensive high-definition digital presentation of over one hundred and fifty examples of Petruccelli's incredible art.

This is the first time the Melega Art Museum has exhibited artworks of a contemporary of Frank L. Melega. It is safe to speculate that Mr. Melega was aware of and admired the illustrations of Antonio Petruccelli. Melega, a self-taught artist, studied and found inspiration in the outstanding artist's of his day. The many connections between the two artists are also reasons the Frank L. Melega Art Museum is so excited and honored to exhibit one of America's greatest illustrators, Antonio Petruccelli.

No comments: