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John Saccaro Painting Example (1955)
Oil on canvas
40 x 40 inches
On September 2, 1913, John Saccaro was born in the city of San Francisco, California. His parents were both Venetians. His father worked as a Foreman at the Union Iron Works while his mother was a housewife. When John was only four years old his father died from cancer. Although his father left him at such a young age, he always remembered that his father had asked him to learn the Italian language. Learning to speak Italian was a skill that would help him in his career as an artist. His artistic abilities became evident when he was still very young. Growing up, John Saccaro was always fond of sketching. His school notes had wonderful drawings of cowboys and ships rather than arithmetic and English. Sketches of strong men in suits and armor, making his imagination run wild.
When John turned 18, he decided to leave high school. He stayed in a hotel and started to search for jobs in San Francisco. After a year, John Saccaro entered his very first art class. There, he met the woman he would soon marry– his art teacher, Marie Lynch. John was not only chasing his dreams of becoming an artist but also pursuing Marie Lynch as his lover. Marie was from Boston, Massachusetts and graduated from the University of California in San Francisco. She and John loved the arts and had a creative streak, so their interests intertwined.
As John Saccaro was becoming skilled as an artist, a friend asked him to join the Public Works Art Project (PWAP). He was eager to apply, so he submitted his portfolio of watercolor pieces. After some deliberation, John was hired and assigned to the Easel Section. After a period of contributing art to this department, he was moved to the Mural section in late 1939. At 25, he already managed his own show in the San Francisco Museum of Art. With his skills, he was then given a task to supervise the tile mural project at the San Francisco Aquatic Park as the original supervisor had left suddenly. The installation crew was already in San Francisco and needed a director. They only spoke Italian and since John spoke the language he was the ideal director to manage them. His work in the Aquatic Park came to a halt when World War II began. He joined the army and was made the artist of the troop. He painted camouflage prints on the tanks, red crosses on the ambulances, and stars and identification marks for their platoon. He even painted a lot of Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny pictures on the tanks during his stay in Europe.
After John’s service in the army, he returned to San Francisco in 1945. There he studied at the California School of Fine Arts in 1951. The school had a reputation for teaching innovative methods of art and was home to several brilliant artists like him. After he graduated, John practiced painting abstract designs – a style that eventually made him famous. He called his way of painting Sensorism. To John, abstract painting was not just an act of merely splashing paint and doing random strokes on the canvas. For him, creating an abstract picture evokes emotions and energies from the viewers is the essence of what abstract should be. John believed that every painting he created should be painstakingly planned. Thus, his Sensorist style of abstract expressionism got him featured in a lot of prominent galleries in town. At the start of the 1960s, the exploration of modern art made John quit abstract painting. Because he felt he couldn’t compete with the growing demand of other modern art styles like Pop Art. He ended up teaching at UCLA for a few months. After John’s six year hiatus as a full-time artist, he and his wife moved back to live in San Francisco. This was the year where he debuted a show of x-ray films painted in a particular manner.
As an artist, John was initially known as a Regionalist painter at the PWAP. He painted subjects with an American theme and naturalistic style that blended beautifully. He used watercolor as his main medium. But, his style changed when he started school at the California School of Fine Arts. This was when he began exploring abstract design and exploring different media. Then later, he finally developed his Sensorism style. These paintings were often created on large canvases. His color choices are of muted and multichromatic hues. He was also fond of layering a series of horizontal and vertical slashes.
John Saccaro’s paintings can be found in museums and art galleries and certainly the artist would get great joy in seeing his paintings in these venues. The artist John Saccaro will be remembered for his paintings, but also for his teachings, methods and creating his Sensorism style of abstract art.