Gallery Write Up: Mario Prisco

James Stephens

Professor Pennisi

DGMA. 1413-70 SET305/1:00

19 October 2016


One aspect of the art world is how artists attempt to create forms throughout their pieces. However, many choose to focus on all parts of the image, the details, the interaction between different elements, instead of focusing on their own created form in itself. The artist Mario Prisco chooses form over detail, wanting the viewer to focus on the figures and shapes he has created. It was less about the interaction throughout his work and more of the simplicity, the basic nature of figures and forms.

Mario Prisco, the former Dean and professor at Alfred University School of Art and Design, was born and raised in Southeastern New York.  Almost his entire life has been dedicated to art and the education of others in the subject of art, starting in 1947 at age 17. His influences mainly stem from cubism and other abstract artistic movements like impressionism, specifically Picasso being an artist he calls upon the most, quoting him and modeling his artistic process after him. Prisco has spent nearly four decades at Alfred, teaching each generation of students how to develop their artistic style and endow them with knowledge about the art world. His art is displayed in multiple galleries such as the Everson Museum of Art and Civic Museum of Philadelphia. Prisco had a hand in the creation of the design program at Alfred University.

In his figure drawings, Mario Prisco is not elaborate with the designs. He does not exaggerate them, nor does he modify them. He gives you the human form and nothing but the human form, it is as basic as you can get. He does not focus on the details on the face, giving you just enough to give you the impression that this is a person, but not so much that it distracts you from the body, the centerpiece of each drawing. His gesture work is incredibly smooth, on the outlines, keeping them basic and thick, while his shading is cross hatched and rough. The poses and postures of the figures are realistic, their bodies proportionate. Each of his figure drawings are a testament to the beauty of humans in their most bare and basic form, without the losing the humanity of the figures.

Prisco’s imaginary landscapes are more complex compared to his figure drawings. Each image has multiple parts to it, each being split into their own sections, sometimes connecting two or more boxes with each other. Inside of each box is simple, abstract objects that vary between geometric and organic. Everything is separated so you can focus on one piece at a time to start, examining the qualities of each individual. Many of the boxes on their own have no relation to each other, but fit together like an abstract puzzle. The landscapes have a variety of colors, and it is easy to tell that Prisco has excellent control over the painting medium.

Through almost 70 years of experience, Mario Prisco has developed and refined his art style. His images are simple, yet they convey so much, like how Prisco focuses mostly of the form of the images. It isn’t about how hyper realistic it looks, it is about creating forms that are appealing, and forms that connect with one another. Whether it be nothing but the human form, or abstract sections of a composition, Prisco will want the viewer to pay attention to how things are drawn, less so why they are drawn.


Citations Page

Jordan, Jason. “Former Alfred Dean Still Inspires through Art.” The Evening Tribune. The Evening Tribune, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

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