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Allan D’Arcangelo Archives

The Allan D’Arcangelo Archives were donated to the University at Buffalo Art Galleries by D’Arcangelo’s children, Gabrielle Walters and Gideon D’Arcangelo, in 2006 and are currently being processed. The majority of the archives are from the 60s and 70s and comprise journals; personal and professional correspondence, mostly with artists, commercial galleries, and museums; audiocassette interviews; photographs of the artist’s artwork; travel slides; film and video footage; announcement cards; art catalogues; and periodicals. The collection reveals an intriguing portrait of D’Arcangelo’s life and career and provides insight into the postwar New York and international art scenes. For more information or to schedule a research appointment please contact Rachel Adams, Senior Curator, UB Art Gallery, at 716-645-0570 or radams4@buffalo.edu.

ALLAN D’ARCANGELO (1930 – 1998)

Born to Italian immigrants in Buffalo in 1930, D’Arcangelo received his bachelor’s degree in history from UB in 1953 and then moved to New York City to pursue his interest in the arts. As an internationally recognized artist whose work spanned five decades, Allan D’Arcangelo began painting at a pivotal moment when artists, critics, and dealers were challenging the dominance of abstract expressionism and other modernist doctrines and hotly contesting new criteria in defining the creation and interpretation of art in society. As an artist, activist, and educator, D’Arcangelo communicated his socially minded ideas through his artwork, in “ban the bomb” and antiwar protests, and in the classrooms of the School of Visual Arts (1963-68 and 1982-92) and Brooklyn College (1973-92).

Represented first by the Fischbach Gallery in the 1960s and later by the Marlborough Gallery in the 1970s, he was featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions internationally that were well received by critics, art historians, and especially his peers. Public collections with major holdings of D’Arcangelo’s works include the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

D’Arcangelo’s first significant paintings featured imagery culled from consumer products and the media to produce “painted collages.” In these painting pin-ups, figures such as Marilyn Monroe, patriotic emblems, mechanical appliances, comic book heroes—as well as brand name labels like Beech-Nut Chewing Tobacco, Gulf Oil, and Sunoco Oil—present a symbolic inventory of contemporary American pop culture. In 1963, D’Arcangelo made an important shift away from conventional pop imagery to his most well-known subject matter—highways receding vertiginously into the horizon, flanked by road signs and simplified natural elements. These stark, depopulated landscapes are reminiscent of those of the Italian Surrealist Giorgio de Chirico, yet they embody a distinctly American vision of space shaped by the automobile and the perspective seen through the windshield at accelerated speeds. Gradually, road barriers and industrial elements enter the picture plane and ultimately engulf the canvas. Explicit representation and single-point perspective are abandoned as bold interlocking abstractions push beyond the edge of the frame from within deep space.