May 9, 2010

Feast your eyes on Carlo Pittore's brilliant strokes


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Carlo Pittore’s 8- by 17-foot “La Buffonera,” 1983, is the centerpiece of “Carlo Pittore @ the Constellation Gallery.”

David Marshall photo

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“Self Portrait with Profile of Bern Porter,” 1986

Courtesy photo

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: The Constellation Gallery, 511 Congress St., Portland; 409-6617 WHEN: Through May 26 HOURS: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

ALSO: Pittore Birthday Party, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday

Ensor's and Yeats' meditations on religion and Pittore's recycled forms make for a clear start for interpreting the huge painting. Yet Pittore's use of a single model for most of the figures (many of whom are recognizable despite being masked) hints that this picture is a single portrait of the many roles, identities and episodes that make up an individual. If a boxer, then he is the sum of all his fights. If an artist, then he is the sum of his entire oeuvre, and so on.

Pittore could really handle a brush, and this shows in his oil paintings as well as his studies and sketches. Pittore's portraits of friends -- as Mao or a clown or a sculpture -- are quirky and deliciously painted.

There are luscious watercolor sketches for "La Buffonera" and related drawings of clowns from Italian comedic opera. Pittore's black line brush drawings show off his spontaneous wit: Two feature a man riding backward on a donkey (remember the Ensor), and one shows a baseball umpire/Yankee/clown hilariously placing a lighted firecracker on the backside of an unsuspecting catcher.

It is not often that you get to see recently discovered paintings by major artists as complex and strong as "La Buffonera." Coupled with 32 other works, this makes for a fascinating portrait of a late, great Maine artist.


Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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Additional Photos

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“Opera – Self Portrait,” oil on linen, 1981

David Marshall photo


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