Jon Ippolito, an assistant professor of new media who believes that art should be displayed and not hidden away in a closet, has donated to the University of Maine Museum of Art eight oil paintings by his father, Angelo Ippolito, internationally exhibited artist and renowned member of the New York School of abstract expressionism.
Works by Angelo Ippolito, who died in 2001, are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian Institution. His paintings also hang in numerous corporate, university and private collections in Europe.
Now Maine residents will be able to see Angelo Ippolito’s oils, famous for their bright, colorful, abstract shapes. The works are planned to be unveiled late next fall at the UMaine museum in Norumbega Hall, downtown Bangor, as part of an Angelo Ippolito exhibition.
“I feel that the best place to store a painting is on the wall at a museum,” says Jon. “And my father would be happy to find that was the destination.”
The paintings, valued at an estimated $350,000, will provide a significant boost to Campaign Maine, the University’s six-year, $150 million comprehensive capital campaign.
Angelo Ippolito was a “pretty colorful character,” says his son. Born in Italy in 1922, he came to New York when he was nine. Unable to speak English, he dropped out of school and enrolled in art classes at the Brooklyn Museum. After serving in World War II, he continued to study art both in the U.S. and in Europe. He helped found The Tanager, one of the first art galleries in New York City’s downtown, which became the “epicenter of the art world.”
A tenured professor despite never having graduated from high school, Angelo Ippolito served as faculty or artist-in-residence at a number of universities including Michigan State University, Binghamton University, Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.
Angelo enjoyed watching the blossoming young artists find their personal niche, according to Jon. “He believed in listening to students and helping each one find her own voice.”
Charged with making sure his father’s art “goes to good homes,” Jon says that UMaine’s museum struck him as the perfect spot for the paintings, some of which are 10 feet wide. “The space has to be capacious and airy and befitting the scale and ambition of these works. The UMaine Museum of Art fits the bill.”
Professor Laurie Hicks, interim director of UMaine’s museum, says the paintings are a welcome addition. “This is a very substantial gift that’s going to move the museum toward a broader sense of itself. I’m excited by the fact that we’re going to exhibit them in the very near future.”
Jon, who says he will enjoy having some of his father’s paintings in his own backyard, was impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm of Professor Hicks and her staff.
“They not only welcomed my gift but also very quickly put together the legal, financial and logistical instruments to make this happen. I’m so grateful to them for helping make this possible.”