(1919 - )
Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in New York of an Italian-Portuguese-Sephardic
immigrant family in 1919. In 1941 he graduated from the School of
Journalism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, (where
he worked on the literary magazine founded by Thomas Wolfe).
During the Second World War Ferlinghetti spent four
years on U.S. Navy ships and commanded a U.S. Navy subchaser at
the Normandy invasion, saw Nagasaki six weeks after the A-bomb,
and after the War earned an M.A. at Columbia University and a doctorate
in literature at the University of Paris. He began drawing from
the model at the Academie Julien in Paris in 1948 and continued
in the open studios of the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1950’s,
70’s and 80’s.
In 1953 he rented a large loft at 9 Mission Street,
San Francisco, just vacated by Hassel Smith. Originally identifying
with the New York painters of his generation, namely Franz Kline
and Willem DeKooning, he pursued what he now considers a “farcical
attempt” to paint in an Abstract Expressionist style…Having
reached an impasse, he stopped painting and did not pick up a brush
again until the mid-1970’s when he returned to figurative
painting, sometimes very close to abstraction, and often combining
the lyrical and the political.
Since then Ferlinghetti has had many one-man exhibitions
in this country and abroad. His most important solo show in Europe
was at the Palace of Exhibitions in Rome (1996). In the catalogue
for that show, the famous Italian art critic, Achille Bonito Oliva,
characterized Ferlinghetti as “godfather of the [Italian]
Lately he has been associated with European Fluxus
art, with shows in Verona and Florence curated by Francesco Conz.
Solo exhibitions in the United States include the shows at the Butler
Institute of American Art, the Anita Shapolsky Gallery in New York,
the Molly Barnes Gallery in Santa Monica, Dominican University in
San Rafael, William Turner Gallery in Venice California and the
George Krevsky Gallery in San Francisco.
Rita Bottoms, Director of Special Collections, University Library,
University of California at Santa Cruz, has said:
Lawrence is a subjective painter and whether the
piece is a social statement or a lyric work, you can feel passion
in it. He makes paintings of great power and beauty, evoking profound
sadness. I am haunted by his art. Many of his paintings have in
them images of birds. I think of him as one of those winged beings,
soaring above and over all those boundaries and artificial barriers
including "writers over here" and "painters over
there." He just sails on over.