Letterio Calapai (1902-1993), Eight-Thirty Express, wood engraving, 1943, signed and dated ’43 lower right, titled and inscribed trial proof 3 bottom left in pencil [with the monogram lower in the plate lower left]; an edition of 27 was printed. In very good condition, on laid paper, 5 3/16 x 8 1/2, the sheet 10 x 12 7/8 inches. Archival mounting.
A fine impression of this modernist American icon, among the most aesthetically compelling of Calapai’s compositions.
Calapai experimented with different papers, and on this impression he has written: “On Casinensis ivory laid – Made in Italy”. The paper has an elaborate two-headed snake watermark.
As American art of the ’30s and ’40s has become increasingly sought after, Calapai’s wood engravings have been rediscovered, and there is a growing realization that he was among the more distinguished artists working in this idiom during this period.
Born in Boston, Calapai studied at the Mass. School of Art, the Art Student’s League, and the American Artists School. He was a student of Robert Laurent, Ben Shahn, and Stanley Hayter. From 1949 – 55 he was chairman of the Graphics Arts Department at Albright Art School at Buffalo, taught at the New School in NY from 1955-62. He was the Founder and Director of the Intaglio Workshop for Advance Printmaking in New York from 1960-65 and then became a professor of art at the University of Illinois.