Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Edward Boccia; Washington University Artist and Teacher Who Became Famous by Doing Things His Way; OBITUARIES

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Edward Boccia; Washington University Artist and Teacher Who Became Famous by Doing Things His Way; OBITUARIES

Article excerpt

Edward Boccia, who died Monday at age 91, was an internationally known painter and a longtime teacher at Washington University whose career took off after he met an arts patron named Morton D. "Buster" May.

May was head of the May Department Stores Co., which owned the Famous-Barr chain. He was an art collector of national renown, with the wherewithal to buy what he wanted.

Each spring, he visited Mr. Boccia's studio in Webster Groves to look over works the artist had painted or drawn since his last annual visit.

"He wanted to see everything, and I have always been very prolific," Mr. Boccia told the Post-Dispatch in 1985. "One year, he would buy drawings like he was buying Hershey bars - the next year, a stack of paintings."

May bought hundreds of the works, using a truck to haul them back to his home in Clayton. He kept buying until he died in 1983. What he didn't keep, he gave to friends, colleagues, universities and museums.

In so doing, May became the Johnny Appleseed who spread Mr. Boccia's work across the country.

Edward Eugene Boccia died Sept. 3, 2012, at his home in Webster Groves. He was diabetic and was diagnosed with pneumonia after he had undergone three surgeries since May, his family said.

Critics say Mr. Boccia created a style uniquely his own.

"He was one of those old-school, down-and-dirty painters who knew how to draw," said A.J. Brewington, a gallery owner in the Central West End who is his agent. "He was gutsy and wasn't concerned about whether anybody liked him or not."

Mr. Boccia was a significant member of the Expressionist movement known for masterfully reconciling tone and color, said Petruta Lipan, director of museums and galleries at St. Louis University.

Mr. Boccia was best known for his large triptychs - three-panel paintings - and polyptychs, many with themes related to Catholic mysticism.

His work is included in the collections of the St. Louis Art Museum, the Denver Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, the St. Louis University Museum of Art, Washington University's Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, the National Pinakothek in Athens, and more than 600 private collections.

Mr. Boccia was born in Newark, N. …

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