Joseph Piccillo , Study, 2009; oil and mixed media on canvas, 60 1/4 x 48 1/8 inches; Gift of the Artist, 2016
As “an intellectual cynic,” Joseph Piccillo comments on society’s disturbing hero worship of vacuous and misanthropic people, saying, “In the selection of images that I use in my work, my repertory, if you will, is an attempt to in some way juxtapose the ironic and absurd with the possibly sublime.” Images of symbolic power, such as a rearing horse with hyper-articulated musculature or an elegantly athletic dancer, are set against a saturated black backdrop. Divers plummet through space permeated by a geometric construct of intersecting lines with textual and pictorial fragments that command scrutiny. Every detail is judiciously positioned. Coded messages float in a primordial cosmos. In this work, he aligns with post-World War I Dada artists who worked subversively to critique society with provocative works.
Piccillo received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Art Education at the State University College at Buffalo, where he has been an inspirational professor. Robert Longo was among his students. Piccillo has received many prestigious awards and grants, and his work has been exhibited extensively across the U.S. and in Europe. A partial list of collectors includes the Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and corporations, including Microsoft. —NW