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Letterio Calapai papers, 1858-1993, (bulk 1920s-1993)

Letterio Calapai papers, 1858-1993, (bulk 1920s-1993)

Calapai, Letterio, 1902-1993

Art teacher, Printmaker

Collection Information

Size: 3.4 linear ft.

Summary: Correspondence, teaching and project files, writings and notes, printed materials, photographs, and sketchbooks, including one with scenes of Rockwell Kent's dairy farm in upstate New York. Calapai's teaching career is documented through correspondence, writings and notes, as well as files concerning his position at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. Project files are found for Calapai's reprint of an 1845 engraving of "The Capture of Major Andre" by Asher B. Durand for the Historical Society of the Tarrytowns, N.Y., repints of print originals by Thomas Bewick, the "Look Homeward Angel" engravings, and a possible exhibition and book about British engraver William Hogarth.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter, engraver, printmaker, and educator; Buffalo and New York, N.Y. and Chicago, Ill. b. 1903, Boston, Mass.; d. 1993, Glencoe, Ill.; Studied at the Massachusetts School of Art, the Beaux Arts Institute of Design, under artist Robert Laurent at the Art Students League, and at the American Artists School under Ben Shahn. He had the first exhibition of his oil paintings at the Art Center in New York City, 1933. In the 1940s, Calapai worked in the Atelier 17 printmaking workshop. He created a hugely successful portfolio of wood engravings inspired by the Thomas Wolfe play "Look Homeward Angel". Calapai also founded and chaired the Graphic Arts Department of the Albright Art School in Buffalo from 1949-1955 and taught at various universities and colleges, including the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine, the New School for Social Research, and New York University. He also established the Intaglio Workshop for Advanced Printmaking in Greenwich Village. He later left New York to teach at the University of Illinois, where he established a training studio and gallery.

Provenance

Donated by Letterio Calapai, 1992.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Letterio Calapai Papers,
1858, 1870, 1900-1993
(bulk 1920s-1993)
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.calalett
Author
Finding aid prepared by Rosa Fernandez
Biographical Note
Italian-American painter, engraver, and printmaker Letterio Calapai was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1903. His parents emigrated from Sicily and encouraged his participation in the arts at an early age. Calapai studied at the Massachusetts School of Art, the Beaux Arts Institute of Design, under artist Robert Laurent at the Art Students League, and at the American Artists School under Ben Shahn.
While in New York, Calalpai worked as a lithographer in a commercial printing shop but eventually abandoned this to pursue his own printmaking and painting full time, an endeavor made possible with the financial help of his former professor, Charles Hopkins. In 1933, Calalpai received his first exhibition, a one man show of his oil paintings, at the Art Center in New York City.
In the 1940s, Calapai became William Hayter's personal assistant at the Atelier 17 printmaking workshop and began to focus much of his work on this medium. He created a hugely successful portfolio of wood engravings inspired by the Thomas Wolfe play
Look Homeward Angel
. New York's George Binet Gallery hosted an exhibition of these prints the same year, a show that resulted in purchases of the portfolio by the libraries of Harvard University, Princeton, and the Boston and New York Public Libraries. Calapai also created book illustrations for a number of manuscript projects including 45 wood engravings for How God Fixed Jonah (1946), a West African adaptation of Old and New Testaments accounts in the Bible.
Calapai founded and chaired the Graphic Arts Department of the Albright Art School in Buffalo from 1949-1955 and taught at various universities and colleges, including the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine, the New School for Social Research, and New York University. He also established the Intaglio Workshop for Advanced Printmaking in Greenwich Village. He later left New York to teach at the University of Illinois, where he established a training studio and gallery.
Letterio Calalapi died in Glencoe, Illinois in 1993.
Arrangement
The Letterio Calapai papers are arranged into eleven series based primarily on type of material. Documents within individual folders are arranged chronologically by year.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1928, 1948-1993, undated (Box 1; 6 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1858, 1870, 1934-1992, undated (Boxes 1-2; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 3: Printed Material, 1925-1991, undated (Box 2; 12 folders)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1921, 1941-1992, undated (Boxes 2-3; 6 folders)
Series 5: The Historical Society of the Tarrytowns, New York, Project File, 1966, 1970-1980, undated
Series 6: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine, Teaching Files, 1965-1981, undated (Box 3; 5 folders)
Series 7: Thomas Bewick Project Files, 1938-1988, undated (Box 3; 4 folders)
Series 8: Thomas Wolfe,
Look Homeward Angel
Portfolio Project Files, 1929-1990, undated (Box 3; 7 folders)
Series 9: William Hogarth Engravings Project Files, undated
Series 10: Photographs, 1900-1990, undated
Series 11: Artwork and Sketchbooks, 1960-1988, undated
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Italian-American painter, engraver, and printmaker Letterio Calapai measure 3.4 linear feet and date from 1858 through 1993 (bulk 1920s-1993). Found are correspondence, teaching and project files, writings and notes, printed materials, photographs, and sketchbooks, including one with scenes of Rockwell Kent's dairy farm in upstate New York. Calapai's teaching career is documented through correspondence, writings and notes, as well as files concerning his position at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. Projects files are found for Calapai's reprint of an 1845 engraving of
The Capture of Major Andre
by Asher B. Durand for the Historical Society of the Tarrytowns, New York, reprints of print originals by Thomas Bewick, the
Look Homeward Angel
engravings, and a possible exhibition and book about British engraver William Hogarth.
Provenance
Donated by Letterio Calapai, 1992.
Processing Information
The Letterio Calapai papers were processed by Rosa Fernández in March 2003.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Letterio Calapai papers, 1858-1993, (bulk 1920s-1993). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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