Sale 0517 Lot 36
DANIEL RALPH CELENTANO
THE POTATO PICKERS ("HOMAGE")
Daniel Ralph Celentano is considered an important American Scene or regionalist artist alongside contemporaries Thomas Hart Benton, grant Wood and John Steuart Curry. These artists celebrated rural life in America by realistically depicting everyday subjects. He is also aligned with contemporary Social realism for his depictions of urban life from the Manhattan neighborhood where he grew up.
Celentano was born in new York City in 1902 to neapolitan immigrants. He was the fifth of fifteen children. The family lived in what was once called italian Harlem on the upper East Side. Many of Celentano’s paintings depict street scenes and personalities from this neighborhood.
At the age of 12, Celentano became Thomas Hart Benton’s first and youngest student. He assisted Benton with the execution of several murals and the two remained lifelong friends. By the time he was 16, Celentano had studied at the Cape Cod School of Art under Charles
W. Hawthorne, at the new York School of fine and Applied Arts with Howard giles and at the national Academy of Design.
He first exhibited his work in 1930 at Alfred Stieglitz’s opportunity gallery. following the success of this show, Celentano’s works were exhibited in other museum exhibitions including those at the Corcoran gallery of Art, The pennsylvania Academy of fine Arts, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Detroit institute of Art and the Carnegie institute. in 1938 he had his first one-man show at the Maynard Walker’s gallery in new York. Walker represented many regionalist artists during the 1930s and 1940s including John Steurt Curry.
The present canvas depicts a regionalist agrarian scene of African American farmers reaping the harvest. A partial label on the reverse indicates this work was exhibted at the Carnegie institute’s interntaional Exhibition in 1943. According the record of the exhibtions, that year Celentano exhibted a work titled Homage. probably, the artist conceived the composition as an Homage to his teacher, Thomas Hart Benton. in the 1920s Benton visited Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and georgia where he sketched studies from life. in the 30s and 40s he revisited these sketches for the American Today mural, and for a series of paintings depicting cotton pickers. Celen ano would have been familiar with the paintings and the sketches from working with Benton.