PRINT May 1999


Allan D'Arcangelo

During the ’60s, when many artists were mining the American vernacular for its distinctive power, ALLAN D’ARCANGELO came forward with a string of painted images that defied classification. Although his imagery was drawn from the signage and vistas favored by commercial artists, D’Arcangelo used the flat, styleless illustrator's mode to create a moody, haunting atmosphere peculiar to the North American continent.

In earlier work, D’Arcangelo had employed an ironic flatness as an acerbic commentary on such American disgraces as the violence accompanying the civil-rights struggle. But in later paintings of vast transportation networks in urban settings, with their complicated overpasses and cul-de-sacs, D’Arcangelo’s viewpoint became increasingly oblique. Many saw his desolate spaces, and the telescoped impressions of the vehicular traveler, as akin to the landscapes of Giorgio De Chirico.

Although D’Arcangelo was claimed for Pop, New Realism, even Minimalism, his romanticism, tempered by a Leger-like compositional precision, places him in a venerable American tradition—that of the solitary artist confronted with an overwhelming, often discouraging landscape. His poetic awareness of the vastnesses both visible and invisible in American life marked and distinguished his work.