Vincent Cavallaro

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Vincent Cavallaro (November 8, 1912, Cambridge, Massachusetts - May 22, 1985, New York City) was a painter, sculptor and abstract artist. He was a United States citizen, raised and educated in Italy (Milan).

He has been honored in the States with an award from the MoMA (War Poster, 1941), commissions from the National Gallery of Art ("Man in Space" program, 1968), and commissions to create many public and private murals and monuments individuals and institutions, including public schools in the New York City area (circa 1963 - 1975).[1]

Public installations and permanent collections[edit]

2007 photo: Man in Space, Glass Mosaic at PS 9, Manhattan, Vincent Cavallaro, 1965 Scientific Observations From Art Astrophysics: The angled shape to the right of Earth could be Earth's shadow made by the Sun. The position of the sun would be directly left in the mosaic, as indicated by the side of the Moon that is lit up. If this were true, then the orbital position of the moon would be in total lunar eclipse and the bright side shown in the mosaic would actually be dark. One might surmise that the angled shadow to the right of Earth is an umbra (conical in shape). If it were, it would be darker, not lighter. The gold color, surrounding Earth's atmosphere (black), may signify a planetary gravitational field. The angled shape going into Earth (from an apparent sun, off to the left) becomes bright as it nears the gravitational field. From an astrophysical perspective, this is misleading because light moving through space is invisible unless one is looking straight at the source. Only when light hits a scattering medium — the atmosphere, for instance — will it then render aglow the medium itself. Space Exploration: The launch vehicle shown in the mosaic is a black, three-stage rocket. The U.S. never designed black rockets that were non-military. Even Sputnik was polished aluminium and its launch vehicle was white. The actual parachutes used for Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo had red and white stripes. Mercury used one parachute, Gemini two, and Apollo three – corresponding to the number of occupants. The capsule in the mosaic is from Project Mercury, but Cavallaro depicted it (incorrectly) upside down. The parachute deploys from the nose, not the rear, forcing the wide end to make first contact with the ocean. The fact that the capsule is close to splashdown (indicated by the wavy lines) means it is a U.S. capsule, not Soviet. The Soviet capsules landed on the ground. Astronauts never orbited pole to pole, as implied by the mosaic. The white dot on Earth marks Cape Canaveral, Florida. The blockhouse (lower left), typically used in all early space flights for emergency rescue and monitoring, resembles the one located at Pad LC-5, the launch site of the Mercury-Redstone 3 Mission that took America's first astronaut, Alan Shepard, into outer space May 5, 1961.[2] Inverting colors in mosaic is a common practice, especially when trying to convey light reflections and shadows within the limitations of color medium. Inverting physical shapes, such as the capsule hanging upside-down from the parachute perhaps appealed aesthetically to the artist, given the "V" shaped cone that the capsule is falling into. Mosaics rarely are seen as technical depictions. The white dot also gives an impression of a catch light of an eye, a desirable highlight in portrait photography and anime. The black surrounding the Earth, presumably the atmosphere, is suggestive of the iris of an eye. — Observations of Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD, August 7, 2007
First get your facts straight, and then distort them at your leisure.Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD, paraphrasing Mark Twain in jest over artists who are inspired by the cosmos.
  • 1962 — Mosaic, Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski, on Horseback, With His Aides, Casimir Pulaski Elementary School, PS 304, Brooklyn.
  • 1963 — Bas-relief for a Main Hallway of the Horizon Building, New Jersey.
  • 1965 — Glass Mosaic, Man in Space (8 x 21 feet), Public School 9, Upper West Side, Manhattan.
  • 1966 — Bronze sculpture (location unknown, but thought to be a high school in Queens)
  • 1967 — Sculpture, Man in Space, Bronze (4 feet x 10 feet x 8 inches). Relief composed of geometrically-shaped figures enclosed in geometric spaces conveys the theme of man in space and the education of science — located at Peter Rouget Junior High School 88, 544 Seventh Avenue, courtyard entrance, east wall, Brooklyn. The sculpture cost $10,000. Final approval was given July 10, 1967. Condition: Surveyed 1992 October. Treatment needed.[3]
  • 1968 — In cooperation with the National Gallery of Art, NASA commissioned Cavallaro to give his artistic perspective of Saturn V Apollo launch. Cavallaro painted nine works, all now in the possession of the National Air and Space Museum, Garber Facility. He was one of dozens of nationally-known artist who had participated in the NASA Art Program, which chronicled the wonders, risks and triumphs of space exploration through the eyes of artists.
  1. Ignition Sequence (1968), painting, oil and acrylic on canvas; current owner: National Air and Space Museum (A19750915000)
  2. Power To Go, painting, mixed media on canvas; current owner: National Air and Space Museum (A19760292000)
  3. After Image, acrylic on canvas; current owner: National Air and Space Museum (A19781061000)
  4. Untitled I (1967–68), painting, mixed media on canvas; current owner: National Air and Space Museum (A19810581000)
  5. Untitled II (1967–68), painting, mixed media on canvas; current owner: National Air and Space Museum (A19810582000)
  6. Untitled III (1967–68), painting, mixed media on canvas; current owner: National Air and Space Museum (A19810583000)
  7. Untitled IV (1967–68), painting, mixed media on canvas; current owner: National Air and Space Museum (A19810584000)
  8. Untitled V (1967–68), painting, mixed media on canvas; current owner: National Air and Space Museum (A19810585000)
  9. Untitled VI, painting, mixed media on canvas; current owner: National Air and Space Museum (A19810586000)
  • 1969 — Outdoor Sculpture, Gemini, 1967-1969, bronze; base: concrete, painted (approximately 13 feet 2 inches x 4 feet 8 inches x 3 feet 6 inches; base: height 37 inches x diameter 11 feet). Inscription (on circle, side facing auditorium): Cavallaro (signed). Subject: Emblem — Zodiac. Located at John Dewey HS, Brooklyn, Brooklyn. The sculpture cost $30,000. Final approval was given October 14, 1969.
  • 1969 — Sculpture, Social Communication A five-panel abstract relief: hydrostone with epoxy paint (8 inches x 4 feet x 9 inches).[3] The sculpture cost $15,000. Final approval was given on Sept. 30, 1971. (location unknown, but thought to be a high school in Queens)
  • 1975 — Aluminum Sheets Painted With Enamel, Untitled PS 142, Amelia Castro School, Manhattan.

Bygone Installations[edit]

  • 1960 — Commissioned art for The Gaucho Room (aka El Gaucho Restaurant), The Summit Hotel (51st & Lexington)
Designed by Morris Lapidus, Loews Corporation built and opened the hotel in 1961. Lapidus gave the Gaucho room an Argentine flavor, where walls looked like cowhide, lamp fixtures were shaped like steer skulls and the ceiling was ornamented with cattle brands. The Gaucho was modeled on a restaurant of the same name at the Americana Hotel in Bal Harbour, Florida (now the Sheraton Bal Harbour).[4] Loews remodeled it in 2002, renaming it "Metropolitan." Loews sold it to Hilton Hotels Corporation in 2003, and is renamed it the "Doubletree Metropolitan." On March 29, 2005, the New York City Landmarks Commission designated the Summit Hotel as a Landmark.
  • 1966 — 30 lithographs for the Hilton Hotel, New York.

Selected Shows[edit]


  • 1979 — Cover: The Trojan Horse, The New York Quarterly (NYQR), Issue 24.
  • 1985 — After Image, (1978) (name not credited in publication), Chapter 7 of NASA research publication: Mary M. Connors, PhD, et al., Living Aloft, NASA.[15]

Family History[edit]

Mr. Cavallaro was married to Fulvia Burbi (b Oct 22, 1916, Milan, Italy - d. April 17, 1967). His parents were Giovanni Cavallaro and Maria Giuseppa DeBenedetti. He completed a year of formal studies in art in 1933 at Brera Academy in Milan. Under the Italian spelling of his first name, "Vincenzo," he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Warrant Officers Program on April 15, 1942, at Fort Jay, Governors Island and served until 1946 (US Army Serial No. 32315213). His enlistment papers reflect that, among other things, he had one year of college and was working as a canvas cover repairman, animation artist, motion picture animation artist, model maker for motion pictures, and general artist. His enlistment papers also indicate that he was 5'7", 120 lbs. and married.[16]


  1. ^ Exhibit Brochure, Vincent Cavallaro, Toninelli Arte Moderna, Milan (1968), Estate of Catherine Viviano, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, New York
  2. ^ Observations of Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD, Astrophysicist & Frederick P. Rose Director, Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History (located three blocks from the mosaic), Aug 8, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
  4. ^ 'Most Hated Hotel' Reclaims Its Floridian Flamboyance; Summit, Renamed Now, Going Back to Its Roots, The New York Times, November 8, 2000.
  5. ^ U.S. Treasury Department Defense Posters Go on View Today, The New York Times, July 16, 1941.
  6. ^ Gallery owned and operated by Henri (Henrietta Springer Ehrsam) (1908-1996), est 1957 in Alexandria, Virginia, moving ten years later to Washington, D.C., 21st and P streets. Gallery records from The Estate of Henrietta Ehrsam were given to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Washington, DC.
  7. ^ Cavallaro: Paintings and Isolani, Sculpture, The New York Times, November 13, 1960.
  8. ^ Exhibition at Highgate Gallery, ARTnews, v. 59 (December 1960) p. 18.
  9. ^ Exhibition at Highgate Gallery, Arts Magazine, v. 35 (December 1960) p. 63, The Art Digest, Inc., publisher (New York).
    "A peculiar brown textured background is used a little like a trade-mark in these nonobjective oils, and in front of it, multiple color planes, like a big plastic kaleidoscope play with light and pleasant weightlessness."
  10. ^ J.L. Hudson Gallery Records, 1962-1973, Smithsonian Archives of American Art. The Gallery had been established in 1963 by Joseph Lowthian Hudson, who wanted to bring art of top quality to Detroit, Michigan. The Gallery closed in 1974.
  11. ^ Jacob D. Weintraub (b. August 21, 1905 - d. April 21, 2000), Art Director.
  12. ^ Most of the gallery records from The Estate of Catherine Viviano were given to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, New York.
  13. ^ Exhibition at Viviano Gallery , ARTnews, v. 68 (November 1969) p. 13.
    "Gemini IV juxtaposes the anthropological with synthetic by encasing a slab of abstract plaster refief in blue plastic and aluminum strips."
  14. ^ Concetta Nardin (b. 1939 - ) was the sole proprietor of Nardin Galleries.
  15. ^ After Image (1978), Acrylic on Canvas, 48-1/2 x 51 inches, donated by NASA to National Air and Space Museum, stored in the Garber Facility.
  16. ^ U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, National Archives and Records Administration

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