“A premiere sculptor of the american photo realist artist group in the 1970s, John DeAndrea established a new level of literal realism within the ongoing tradition of figurative sculpture.” (The Color of Life, Ed. Roberta Panvanelli, J. Paul Getty Museum Publications and the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2008)
DeAndrea graduated with his Bachelor degree in (1965) from Colorado University, Boulder, continuing on to the University of Mexico for graduate school with an assistantship. At that time, Abstraction dominated the scene and was mostly all that was taught in the universities. Mesmerized by the human form, DeAndrea, at first, painted Abstract figurative work to fit in with the times, while secretly developing a body of work which debunked the mainstream, working from life casting and developing techniques to create hyper-realist sculpture. As he emerged from his schooling, and unveiled his private works, he joined OK Harris at the beginning of a new movement of realist works, exhibiting with the likes of Chuck Close, John Salt, Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Robert Bechtel and Duane Hanson at the beginning of their careers. This movement quickly took hold, skyrocketing them to success and notoriety. Chuck Close and John DeAndrea being the first American artists to show in Paris at the Center Georges Pompidou.
Live casting was a completely unexplored technique at the onset of the 1960s, at first working with traditional plaster casts, John DeAndrea was seeking a greater realism and more definition and so he developed a method of silicone casting that enabled him to capture more precise detail. This spawned a unique and innovative body of work never before seen by the world, sculptures so real that at first sight one might mistake them for a real person.
Starting with fiber glass positives, evolving to Polyvinyl Resin and then onto bronze, DeAndrea’s earliest works were painted with automotive paint, later evolving into acrylics and then oil. Using real human hair and cast hair, constructing his own glass eyes and painting in eyes, he has explored a variety of techniques as suited to the individual piece. Over the course of 50 years and 350 sculptures, DeAndrea has refined his technique to capture the human spirit. It is DeAndrea’s incredible passion and drive to create the most realistic effects possible that has propelled mold making and sculpture in the 20th century.
Some of DeAndrea’s greatest accomplishments include: publication as a featured artist in Janson’s History of Art (3rd. ed.); Taschen’s Realism and Sculpture: From Antiquity to the Modern Day; The New York Post “Art in the Artist”; Art in America, “A New Realism in Sculpture” and “The Verist Sculptors: Two Interviews”; inclusion in the permanent collections of several Art Museums throughout the world, including Chicago Institute of Art, Ludwig Museum in Colon, Germany, and the aforementioned Center Georges Pompidou in Paris; exhibitions at the Venice Biennale in 1978 and 2013, Documenta V and Documenta VII, Kassel, Germany;, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Getty Villa, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and a retrospective at the Kunst Haus Vien in Vienna, Austria which featured 45 pieces on loan from all over the world.
John DeAndrea: Early Years
As a little boy John DeAndrea grew up in Denver, Colorado, living with 14 relatives in a cinder block garage converted home, consisting of Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and his primary family, sharing a bed amongst four boys. It was during this time that John DeAndrea contracted Polio. Spending about 4 months in the hospital, quarantined for part of the time, John was one of the lucky ones. The polio only affecting his left arm, the nerve damage of which was so severe that the polio rendered this arm disabled except for use of the muscles in his hand. An avid lover of animals, with sheep and horses tied up in alleyways, John DeAndrea was always an inventive and creative young boy, as well as athletic despite his impairment. He had his first spark of interest in art in high school, when he received (a city wide award) for a monotype print, which opened the door in his mind for him to pursue art.
Son to Italian American parents, his father made money where he could, working as a steelworker, in a packing house and eventually owning his own Italian Restaurant and Bar. Despite his working class upbringing, DeAndrea aspired to be an artist, facing ridicule amongst his family, he became the first of his large extended family to attend college. He was accepted into CU Boulder in (1961) to study Fine art, where he took his first figurative drawing class. It was at that moment that he fell in love with the figure.