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Joan Savo Works Biography

Joan Savo  (b.1918, Portland, OR – d. 1992, California)

In describing her style, Miss Savo said, “Visualizing, rather than working from a model, provides me a sustaining theme with fewer limitations and more possibilities in defining the human form. And to express the attitude of the figure, as displayed in his gesture or posture, is of more interest to me than to portray the image. My choice of the figure as subject matter possibly has something to do with my interest in the human scene. I have a concern for man in his existential aspect. While coping with the phantasmagoria of his world of trifling urgencies, he maintains remarkable stature. I see this nobility revealed in his ‘epiphanies’. Colin Wilson, in his book The Strength to Dream, describes ‘epiphanies’ as ‘moments observed by an artist in which the soul of the commonest object seems to us radiant.’”

Alexander Fried, a past San Francisco art critic, in reviewing the artist’s exhibition at the Palace of the Legion of Honor, stated in part, “Miss Savo’s exhibit seems to me particularly accomplished, even profound. The swift facility of her brushwork and application of refreshing, novel, yet meaningful color is amazing. Her figure compositions achieve at best a true, striking seriousness, an inner absorption, sense of the human dilemma, even a hint of tragedy, without self-pity. She is masterly in what she is doing. I personally look to great things from her.”

For her exhibition at the Gallery de Silva in 1969, art critic Harriette Von Breton wrote, “She captures a remarkable illusion of reality in her images which are direct statements of gesture or posture in an existentialist context. Her large single figures dominate the scene and involve the viewer in an enlivening human situation. Savo manipulates her brush and paint with boldness and skill. Her rich, free brush strokes create a large color sketch that is painterly, fresh and masterful. She derives somewhat from the David Park figurative school of painting, but Savo softens and shadows her figures with illusion. She is deeply involved in the human dilemma. Her figures are well-structured and commanding images of drama and mood.”

Her work is housed in the permanent collections at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Walnut Creek Civic Arts; the Kaiser Center, Oakland; Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art; and the Oakland Museum among others. During her lifetime, she staged one artist shows at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, SF; Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento and had a widely acclaimed retrospective at the Fresno Art Center in Fresno in 1980. She was a local resident of Pacific Grove, California.

 

 

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