FELIX RUVOLO (1912 - 1992) "Illusion" dated 1951 Oil on canvas, 31" x 35"
FELIX RUVOLO BIOGRAPHY
Felix Ruvolo created something of a sensation when he was hired onto the University of California at Berkeley faculty in 1950. As professor Karl Kasten remarked with a smile "the ground shook". As another colleague later said "there was no doubt that Felix Ruvolo's reputation had gone before him". Ruvolo was highly regarded both in Chicago where he worked with a group of fantasy surrealists that included among others Gertrude Abercrombie (1908-1977) and in New York where he was part of important early abstract expressionist exhibitions. Through these interactions, Ruvolo became friends with several of the first generation of abstract expressionists including Mark Rothko.
Ruvolo was born in New York in 1912. He was raised in Sicily by grandparents for several years until he moved to Chicago with his parents at the age of 12. Ruvulo attended the Art Institute of Chicago and taught there from 1945 to 1948. Early career breakthroughs occurred when he was included in two groundbreaking New York Museum of Modern Art exhibitions: the 1947 Abstraction and Surrealism and the 1951 Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America. Additional invitations flowed from the Whitney Museum of Art, the Walker Art Centre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Phillips Collection of Art and numerous others.
Felix Ruvulo’s New York exhibitions resulted in significant recognition in the marketplace and a solo exhibition at the Grand Central Moderns Gallery (NYC) in 1949 and a few years later, an invitation to the Poindexter Gallery (NYC) that also represented Richard Diebenkorn, James Weeks, Emerson Woelffer, and other prominent artists.
Felix Ruvulo and his wife Mardin moved west in 1948 after accepting an invitation to teach at Mills College. The following year he accepted an appointment as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. It was in Berkeley where Ruvulo began his large scale abstract expressionist paintings with heavy impasto. He also became one of the favorite teachers in the department with students that included Walter de Maria, Mark di Suvero, William Brown, Paul Wonner and Ray Saunders among others.
The Ruvolo’s first moved to the rural town of Walnut Creek that in the years ahead gave way to sprawl. After the birth of their son Antonio, they found an old Victorian character home in Berkeley below Shattuck Avenue that was a reasonable walk to Spreckels Hall and the art department. Eventually they moved again to the hills above Berkeley that offered spectacular San Francisco Bay views. On the morning of October 20, 1991 a strong wind developed and merged with a catastrophic fire that burned a large swath of the hills. The Ruvolo family was fortunate to escape alive at the last moment but they did lose the majority of the canvases from the breadth of his career as well as a world-class anthropology collection belonging to his son Antonio. Just as the artist was beginning to resume work, Felix succumbed to cancer the following year in 1992.
Museums Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO Albright-Knox, Buffalo, NY Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA Philips Collection, Washington, DC Pennsylvania Academy, Philadelphia, PA The Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, IL The Krannert Museum, Champaign, IL Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN The Auckland City Museum, New Zealand
Select Group & Solo Exhibitions 1939-1947 Corcoran Gallery Biennials, Washington, DC 1947 Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL 1948 M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA 1949 Grand Central Moderns, New York, NY 1949 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY 1950-1954 Viviano Gallery, New York, NY 1951 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY 1958-1960 Poindexter Gallery, New York, NY
Awards 1942, 1946, 47 Art Institute of Chicago, Bremer Award 1942 Gerstler Award 1945 San Francisco Museum of Art; Kearney Prize 1946 Milwaukee Art Institute 1946 California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco Richmond Art Center. Ruvolo received 28 awards between 1942 and 1957
Literature 2009 Kasten, Karl. Foghorns and Peacocks: A Memoir 2005 AskART.com Inc. - Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson (Editor), The Artists Bluebook 2005 Davenport, Ray. Davenport's Art Reference: The Gold Edition 2002 Newby, Rick and Pappas, Andrea. The Most Difficult Journey, The Poindexter 1999 Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975 1993 Bowker R R. Who's Who in American Art 1993-1994 1990 Falk, Peter Hastings. The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago 1989 Falk, Peter Hastings. Annual Exhibition Record, 1914-68, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 1987 Cummings, Paul. Dictionary of Contemporary American Artists 1985 Albright, Thomas. Art in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945-1980 1985 Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art: Artists Active Between 1898-1947 1979 Yochim, Louise Dunn. Role and Impact: The Chicago Society of Artists1976 Jaques Cattell Press. Who's Who in American Art, 1976 12th Edition1967 Howe, Thomas C. Painters Behind Painters; An Exhibition of Central California Artists Sources www.askART.com Collections of American Modernist Painting. University of Washington Press. Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California: 1786-1940 Falk, Peter Hastings (Editor). Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975 Calisphere, UC Berkeley. Felix Ruvolo Obituary Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786-1940 Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art Albright, Thomas. Art in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945-1980