Pasquale Patrick Stigliani was a New York City painter and poet. He was an independent artist trained under the principles of New York’s Art Student’s League in the 1950s. Stigliani was inspired by Post-Impressionist landscapes and Central Park, the realism of the Ashcan School’s still lifes and self-portraiture, and German Expressionism’s emotional release and focus on strong lines. Stigliani was a dedicated Upper West Side artist who painted as passionately as he lived.
Pasquale Stigliani was born in Harlem, New York to a large Italian family. He loved visiting the Natural History Museum and sketching the Native American displays and artifacts. Of it he said “drawing was a great solace to me as a child… that was my magic….” From his early childhood on, Stigliani lived in the Upper West Side. It served as a major inspiration for his life and art; the old architecture, its people, and the trees of Central Park, for which he knew all the names.
After serving in World War II, Stigliani returned to New York and studied with John Blomshield. Blomshield had studied with the Art Student’s League during the 1940s and took on Stigliani as a private student, imparting a formal, technical education. Stigliani recalled that still life drawing was an important part of his training and imprinted in him the importance of contrast; how to use light to create mood. While he loved color, he used it sparingly, increasing its impact in his primarily black and white compositions.
Stigliani exhibited at a 59th Street gallery overlooking Central Park on the Upper West Side, but as the Abstract Expressionist movement swept the country his landscapes became less relevant to the Contemporary New York galleries at the time. Although he wasn’t interested in keeping up with art trends, he revered many significant artists of the early 20th century, including Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, and Max Beckmann. Stigliani’s love of the landscape stemmed from his admiration of Cezanne and his deep affinity with Central Park, while his people scenes and still life paintings, with the restrained use of color and strong line work, pull strongly from German Expressionism.
In Stigliani’s personal writings, he spoke of his approach to art “as a direct response to the mood I wish to evoke. A need to go beyond logic and intelligence is a force that drives me to paint.” His impassioned images of the streets and people of the Upper West Side, of his Siamese cats, theater programs he watched each week, his beloved Central Park, and of the boats and bridges of New York all reveal a life lived with intensity and warmth. His close friends and family knew Stigliani as “a dreamer, a romantic, a walker, a reader . . a man with great sensitivity who was touched by the subtle things.” Time and again he quit making art only to return again with a renewed devotion, each time waiting for his vision to fully form before being realized through his brush.
We would like to thank Lois Gasquez, for bringing Pascual Patrick Stigliani’s collection and story to us.