The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University will present an exhibition of paintings by Floriano Vecchi (1920–2005), who was born near Bologna and lived for many years in New York. The exhibition will be open to the public from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM each weekday from March 12 through April 8. An opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 PM on March 12, 2008, will feature a talk by the writer Paula Fox at 6:30 PM.
In 1953 Vecchi, together with his partner Richard Miller, founded the Tiber Press, which became one of the most important sources in America of printed artwork. Among the Press’s first major projects was a portfolio of drawings by Tobias Schneebaum with text by Vance Bourjaily, The Girl in the Abstract Bed (published 1954). The Tiber Press went on to reproduce paintings and drawings by such seminal figures as Stuart Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Sheeler, Ben Shahn, Alfred Leslie, Cecil Beaton, Grace Hartigan, Michael Goldberg, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, and many others.
In 1962, Andy Warhol approached Vecchi with a drawing on paper of a $1 bill, asking if Vecchi could help with printing the drawing. Vecchi suggested that Warhol redraw the image on Mylar, and Warhol made his first print, under Vecchi’s supervision, at Tiber Press, the first of many such compositions. The Tiber Press also produced Folder, a literary publication in the form of loose sheets featuring work by New York poets and artists. Working together with Daisy Aldan and William Weaver, Vecchi published works by Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, John 2 Ashbery, James Schuyler, and many other prominent writers, along with Aldan’s first English translation of Mallarmé’s Un coup de des.
Floriano Vecchi was best known for his work with the Tiber Press, but he was a serious painter who produced work for several decades. His paintings have been compared to those of another Italian artist, Giorgio Morandi. Vecchi was drawn to the still-life, depicting flowers, bottles, fish, drapery, vegetables, and also more contemporary objects such as plastic containers. He also executed a series of figurative works, most notably a “Last Supper” in which the same model posed for all thirteen figures, and a triptych in which the same model is shown in three views on a wooden cross. A 1994 exhibition of Vecchi’s paintings in New York was reviewed by Martin Parsons in Artspeak, who wrote that “Vecchi emerges as a highly original painter with a unique vision.”