"Spirit of Peace"
DECOPOLIS Tulsa Art Deco Museum Collection

The above painting is by Gustavo Cenci  (Born 1897 in Terni, Umbria, Italy -Died 1982 in Cairo, NY). It is done in a style that was popular during the 1930's New Deal, WPA era. The style was so commonly used on WPA projects that some have called it the WPA Art Deco Style. It can also fit into what is called American Regionalism, and Social Realism.  These styles shift away from the more abstract modernism and "purely" Art Deco styles, back towards the more classical forms, while still keeping a sense of that modernism, in particular, its Art Deco strain. 

Artists during this time, working for the WPA, often leaned more politically to the Left. Which is understandable as they were in the midst of the depression and being helped out by the government. Many of the public works done under this program, heavily featured depictions of working men and women. You can see some examples of this in the Port Chester murals that Cenci worked on, below. 

Often people will either gravitate towards "Modern Art" or "Classical Art", but Art Deco seems to be a style that almost everyone appreciates.  And we believe it is because it so often straddles the line between classical and modern. Take our painting for instance. The subject is an age old one "Woman with Dove" that has been done over and over since ancient times. Yet here it has been done in a stylized manner which is not so abstract that the classicist can't still appreciate it, but has been given just enough of an Art Deco stylization, that even a lover of modern art can find interest and appreciation in it as well. 

The painting is Oil on board,  28.25" X 25.25" Framed size 34.75" X 31.75" 

Above: Here we can see some examples of "Woman with Dove" art pieces.  Beginning with a couple done in a more classical, realistic style, then two done in the more stylistic Art Deco style, then a more abstract Picasso. As you can see, our painting, though Art Deco, leans a bit more towards the classical end of this spectrum. 

In later years, Cenci moved even further away from the Art Deco style. By the late 40's and 50's he was creating more colorful works and many of his works had a nautical, almost "Tiki "theme, many featuring nude women of which he was know for and had won awards for. Cenci also taught art, and many of the pieces you can find of his reflect a more basic and simple approach, especially the scenic works, some of which may have been done as teaching examples. 

Above: Here is a signed oil painting by Gustavo Cenci that we found an image of.  We can't help but notice many similarities with this painting, to ours. The pose and positioning of the figure, the face, and even the skin tones/colorings. 

Above: Another signed oil painting by Gustavo Cenci dated 1949. Though the colorings are quite different, note the unique "crosshatch" technique which is usually reserved for pencil, charcoal or pastel.  This unique crosshatch technique is also used on our piece. 

Above: This beautiful Art Deco painting by Gustavo Cenci is held by the Smithsonian. It is listed with the key words; New Deal - Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project. This landscape sports features common to many Art Deco pieces from this era. Deer and Gazelle like animals are a common motif, along with the flowing, stylized mountain landscapes.  The large simple leaves and uniquely stylized trees exemplify the flowing, almost liquid, look to the softly curving shapes and paint strokes used in many paintings of this era and style. 

Below: Murals in the Port Chester Post Office (built in 1934), designed by Domenico Mortellito, with assistance by artist Gustavo Cenci. The murals were funded by a New Deal, WPA grant to the "Treasury Relief Art Project" (TRAP) in 1935, which was created to give work to unemployed artists. The Murals were installed in 1936. 

One note of interest concerns the frame on our painting, it was made by Charles M Allmond, the previous owner of the painting. Charles was a noted sculptor and was also known for creating frames for his artist friends and clients. Gustavo died in 1982 and the frame is dated 1983. We do not yet know if they knew each other. 

"Spirit of Peace" by Gustavo Othello Cenci. DECOPOLIS Tulsa Art Deco Museum acquisition, July 25, 2022.