In celebration of the centennial year of his birth, the Cape Ann Historical Museum is pleased to present, Man Sings of Man: Umberto Romano, 1906 -1982, a retrospective exhibit of the life and art of Umberto Romano.
Born outside of Naples, Italy, Romano and his parents immigrated to the United States when he was a young boy and settled in Western Massachusetts. They spent their summers in Gloucester. Romano’s acceptance to the National Academy of Design in New York City in 1922 propelled his career to a whole new level. He went on to win prestigious awards, including a Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship, which allowed him to tour Europe, studying the masters and creating the foundation for his classical education and influence. His first one man show was held in a New York City gallery in 1928, when he was only twenty-two years old. In 1933 Romano began returning to Gloucester during the summers and started the Romano School of Art, which he eventually moved to the former Gallery-on-the-Moors building. From 1934 to1940 Romano was also the head of the art school at the Worcester Art Museum.
Early in his career Romano was best known for his work as a portrait artist. In 1942 he was commissioned to paint President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mother, Sarah Delano Roosevelt. Yet, Romano is no less known for his work as a muralist, illustrator and sculptor. In 1937, as part of the WPA program, Romano completed a post office mural in Springfield, Massachusetts, entitled: ‘History of Springfield.’
The onset of World War II triggered a change in Romano’s work which drove one New York Times art critic to exclaim, ‘Something amazing and glorious has happened to Umberto Romano. This is an art transfigured’.’ Romano’s work changed with each decade as he continued to seek new ways to express ‘his passionate concern for the human condition, his sensitivity to man’s cares, struggles, frustrations, his unjust suffering.’ Examples from each phase in Romano’s career will be on exhibit, from classical portraiture to abstraction.
Romano has been labeled an ‘Expressionist,’ an ‘Abstract Expressionist,’ and a ‘Classical Modernist.’ His work defies categorization, however. Romano himself abstained from such classifications and believed that, ‘No matter under what title my work is classified, it will always remain a sincere personal experience, emotionally felt and intellectually controlled.’
The work in the exhibition spans six decades, and underscores the fact that Umberto Romano was truly, ‘an artist for all times, for all people.’ An opening reception will be held on October 7 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. The reception is open to the public.
The Cape Ann Historical Museum is located at 27 Pleasant Street in Gloucester. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Museum is closed during the month of February, on Mondays and on major holidays. Admission is $6.50 adults, $6.00 seniors, $4.50 students, children under 6 and Museum members are free. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information please call: (978) 283-0455. Additional information can be found online at: www.capeannhistoricalmuseum.org.