Francis Celentano


Francis Michael Celentano was born in New York in the borough of the Bronx in 1928 and died in 2016. His parents encouraged his interest in painting and drawing at an early age and later provided him with an education to successfully pursue that interest. He attended undergraduate school at New York University were he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Art in 1951. He later studied art history at the Fine Art’s Institute and received a Master’s degree from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, New York University in 1957. In 1966 he accepted an appointment as a visiting lecturer in the painting department of the School of Art at the University of Washington in Seattle. Three years later he was made Full Professor. He retired in 1997.

During his years at DeWitt Clinton high school in the Bronx he took a number of elective art courses with the Fine Arts drawing and painting instructor, Miss Gilmore. She encouraged him to pursue his interest in those areas. Upon graduation in 1947, he received a regional Scholastic Art Award and a bronze St. Gaudens Medal presented to the student who did the best work in elective art courses.

In undergraduate school in 1950 he took an elective drawing class with Philip Guston who recognized his ability as a draftsman and with whom he discussed contemporary art issues over a period of several years. Guston introduced him to the Artist’s Club that hosted lectures by art critics and others from mostly the avant-garde art community. Thus began a commitment to concepts that constituted the stylistic ideology of Abstract Expressionism. He painted in this manner from the early 50’s to the early 60’s. At the same time in graduate school at New York University he also wrote of the style and interviewed its prominent painters in a 1957 Master’s Thesis entitled “The Origins and Development of Abstract Expressionism in the United States.” His thesis supervisor was the art historian Horst W. Janson with whom he took several graduate and undergraduate courses. Shortly after completing his graduate degree at New York University in 1957 he received a Fulbright Scholarship to study painting in Rome and was there a year returning to New York in 1958.

In 1965 he was included in the “Responsive Eye” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the same year he showed in “Kinetic and Optical Art Today” at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York and at the Whitney Annual. He was later represented by the Howard Wise Gallery in New York. In 1968 he was included in “Plus by Minus: Today’s Half Century” at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. He remained in New York until 1966 when he accepted an appointment at the School of Art at the University of Washington in Seattle and retired from there in 1993. He has shown extensively in one-man shows in the Seattle and Portland area. In 1972 he completed a commission for the Seattle Tacoma Airport, a 42-foot mural titled “Spectrum Delta II”. In 1979 he was invited by the Western States Arts Foundation sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts to participate in the “First Western States Biennial Exhibition” and was included again in an exhibition by the same foundation in 1990. In 2005 he showed at the Albright-Knox Gallery exhibition “Extreme Abstraction” and in 2007 in “Optic Nerve” at the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio. In 2010 he had a retrospective at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.



In 1950 I took a basic drawing class with Phillip Guston at New York University, and saw him informally from time to time. His enthusiasm for painting was inspirational. He provided the initial contacts with other artists, those I met at the Artists Club besides the contacts I made on my on at the Cedar Bar in New York in the early 50's. So I met not only the older generation of Abstract Expressionist but also other artists of my own age. As a result I began painting in the manner of Abstract Expressionist (1951-63). It was the current avant-garde style of the time and I was attracted to the immediacy and personal expression it provided.

At the same time I attended the graduate school of Fine Arts History at New York University. I received my degree in 1957, and also a Fulbright in painting and was assigned to Rome from 1957-58. The actual experience of European art, the incredible historic range and variety of styles, broadened my view of art and widened my choices. It distanced me from what I later felt in the '60s was the provincial New York focus on Abstract Expressionism. When I got back to New York my painting evolved rapidly within the next eight years because, in part, the European experience gave me confidence to explore other options. First, I moved in the direction of Hard-Edge painting (1963-65). Then my attention turned to contemporary European art, particularly when I saw the black and white paintings of Bridget Riley at the Museum of Modern Art’s Responsive Eye show in 1965. I was also represented in this exhibition with "Lavender Creed" (1964), now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

From 1965 to 1968 almost all my paintings were composed of black and white shapes. While attending the International Artists Seminar at Fairleigh Dickinson in the summer of 1965 I met Wojtek Fangor, whose vibrant paintings in bold and sensual color fusions I found fascinating. During this time I produced a number of black and white paintings, among them "Black Hexagon" (in the collection of Brandies University) and "Flowing Phalanx" (in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art).

1968, as a reaction to my previous black and white paintings, I formulated a strategy for color and began my first color series "Alpha." At the time there was a desire on my part to create visual instruments of dramatic tension by orchestrating color interactions within the confines of patterns and structures that would control the perception of these forms. This did not exclude at other times my continued interest in absolute contracts, for example: "Gemini 19" (2012, acrylic on plastic, 68x68")

For me, so called Op Art or better Perceptual Art functions as a metaphor for the distortions of perception, experience and reason generously provided by nature and culture.




1928, New York City




1958 Academy of Fine Arts, Rome

1954-57 MA Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, Thesis:

The Origins and Development of

Abstract Expressionism in the United States1949-51

BA, New York University, Washington Square College




2012 Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

2010 Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University, Salem, OR

2010 Laura Russo Gallery, Portland OR

2008 Jacobson Howard Gallery, New York, NY

2007 Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

2005 Bryan Ohno Gallery, Seattle, WA

2004 Laura Russo Gallery, Portland OR

2003 Gallery of Art, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA

1997 Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Gallery, Seattle, WA

1995 “Francis Celentano: Selected Paintings 1954

1995,” Gordon Woodside/John Braseth  Gallery, Seattle, WA and SAFECO Mezzanine Gallery, Seattle, WA (40 year Retrospective)

1993 Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Gallery, Seattle, WA

1992 Whatcom Museum of History and Art ( 10 year retrospective), Bellingham, WA

1991 Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA

1990 "Celentano at Safeco: Paintings by Francis Celentano 1975

1990," Safeco Plaza, Seattle, WA

1989 Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

1986 Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA , Portland Center for the Visual Arts, Retrospective Exhibition, Portland, OR

Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA

1983 "Paintings by Francis Celentano," The Faculty Club, University of Washington, Seattle Fountain Gallery, Portland, OR

1982 Diane Gilson Gallery, Seattle, WA

1981 Diane Gilson Gallery, Seattle, WA , Glover Hayes Gallery, Seattle, WA

1978 Foster/White Gallery, Seattle, WA

1975 Foster/White Gallery, Seattle, WA

1973 Foster/White Gallery, Seattle, WA

1971 Western Gallery, Western Washington State College, Bellingham

Richard White Gallery, Seattle, WA

1969 Richard White Gallery, Seattle, WA

Arlene Lind Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1968 Mountainclair Gallery, West Virginia University, Morgantown

1967 Seligman Gallery, Seattle, WA, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA

1966 The Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle

Howard Wise Gallery, New York City

1961 Phoenix Gallery, New York City





2015 Op Infinitum: “The Responsive Eye”, Fifty Years After (Part II), American Op Art in the 60’s. David Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

2015 Op Infinitum: “The Responsive Eye”, Fifty Years After (Part I), American Op Art in the 60’s “Bent Parameters: The ‘Shaped Canvas’ and Abstraction, . David Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.

“Spring Masters New York”, Park Avenue Amory, New York, NY

2015,” Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Buenos Aires, Argentina

“Momentum”, Pablo Goebel Fine Arts, Mexico City, Mexico

2014 Museum, Florida International University, Miami, FL

“Optic Nerve: The Art of Perception”, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA

2013 “S M L”, James Harris Gallery, Seattle, WA “Geology”, Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, WA, “Holiday Group Show of Gallery Artists”, Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

2012 “Study in Blue,” Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, WA

“Summer Group Exhibition,” Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

“Flashback,” Henry Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

“Summer Review”, Loretta Howard Gallery, New York, NY

2011-12 “ Collecting for the Future: The Safeco Gift and New Acquisitions,” Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA

2011 “OP Art=Illusion,” Gallery Thomas, Munich, Germany “25 th Anniversary Gallery Group Show,” The Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

2010 “Group Show 2010,”  Loretta Howard Gallery, New York, NY

2008 “New American Abstraction 1960

2007 “After Image: Op Art of the 1960’s,” Jacobson Howard Gallery, New York, NY

2007 “Optic Nerve: Perceptual Art of the 60’s,” Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus OH

2006 “20th Anniversary Group Show,” Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

2005 “Extreme Abstraction,” Albright- Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

2003 “From The Collection,” Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, WA

2002 “Variations of Abstractions,” City Spaces, Arts and Cultural Affairs, Seattle, WA

Dedication Exhibition of the New Safeco Redmond Campus, Redmond, WA

1999-00 “Bygone Modern,” The Seattle Arts Commission and the Washington Convention and Trade Center, Convention Center, Seattle, WA

2002 “Three Eminent Northwest Artists,” The Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

1997 “Celentano et Rafferty Nordal,” Cite International des Arts, Paris, France

1991 “Introductions: Celentano and Slater,” Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Gallery, Seattle,  WA

1972 Three Man Show, West Broadway Gallery, New York City

1970 "Francis Celentano – Leroy Lamis," Tacoma Art Museum, WA

"Celentano, Zarins, Husby," Richard White Gallery, Seattle, WA

1975,” Gary Snyder Project Space, New York, NY

1998 “Summer Harvest Celebration,” Jewish Family Service, Seattle, WA

1995 “Washington: 100 Years, 100 Paintings,” Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA

1992 Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

1991 "Masterworks: Pacific NW Arts and Crafts Now," Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA, "Contemporary Washington Art," National Governor's Association Annual Meeting,

Washington State Convention and Trade Center, WA

Summer Group Exhibition, Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR

"Francis Celentano, William Slatter," Gordon Woodside and John Braseth Gallery, Seattle

1990 Western States Arts Federation Exhibition, ART LA 90, Los Angeles, CA

"Views and Visions in the Pacific Northwest," Seattle Art Museum


1990 -A Crystal Ball for the Arts," Seattle, WA

1989 "Decade of Abstraction

1979-1989" (one of three featured artists), Bumbershoot Visual Arts

Exhibition, Seattle Center

1988 The Third International Contemporary Art Fair, Los Angeles

"Contemporary Survey: A Visible Presence in the Northwest," Cheney Cowles Memorial

Museum, Spokane, WA

"Off the Wall: Mixed Media Reliefs," Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR

"School of Art

1987 "Before and After," Davidson Gallery, Seattle

"The First Rainier Club Exhibition of Contemporary Northwest Art," Rainier Club, Seattle

"The 2nd International Contemporary Art Fair," Los Angeles

"Pacific Northwest Art Exposition," Seattle Trade Center

"Bal Masque," Garden Court, Seattle Art Museum

"Microsoft Art Exhibition," Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA

"Light," The NBBJ Group, Seattle

"Seattle Milk Fund Art Show," sponsored by Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle

"Poncho's 25th Anniversary Exhibi

tion," Poncho Gallery, Seattle Art Museum

"Focus: Seattle," San Jose Museum of Art, California


"Northwest Impressions: Works on Paper," Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington,


"25th Anniversary," Fountain Gallery, Portland, OR


Power: Northwest Invitational Drawing Show," Lynn McAllister Gallery, Seattle


"Bumberbiennale: Seattle Painting 1925


1985," Bumbershoot, Seattle Center


"Extravaganza in Color," Viking Union Art Gallery, Western Washington University, Bellingham

"Color Camouflage," Corvallis Arts Center, Oregon

"SIZE," Bumbershoot, Seattle Center, Seattle

"Seattle Parks Centennial Exhibition," Waterfront Park

"Surface, Material, Structure," Hodges/Banks Gallery, Seattle

"Color, Color, Color, Color," Henry Art

Gallery, Rainier Square, Seattle

"The Northwest Collection," King County Admin. Bldg., Seattle


"Group Show of Gallery Artists," Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle

"Contemporary Seattle Art," Bellevue Art Museum, Washington

"Bumberbiennale," Bumbershoot,

Seattle Center, Seattle

"Salon Des Refuses," Belltown Cafe, Seattle


"The Artist and the Air Brush," California State Univ., San Jose

"Invitational Exhibition," Cheney Cowles Memorial Museum, Spokane, WA

"Color, Color, Color," Henry Art Gallery, Seattle


"Colorful Romances: A Spectrum," Henry Art Gallery, Seattle

"1981 Governor's Invitational," Olympia, WA

"Portopia," Kobe, Japan

"Art from Corporate Collections," Bellevue Art Museum, WA


"National Mayors Conferences," Seattle Opera House

"Northwest Artists" A Review," Seattle Art Museum

"Contemporary Washington State Artists," Cranberry World Visitors Center, Plymouth, MA

"First Western States Biennial Exhibition," University of Hawaii, Honolulu; Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA; The Center for the Visual Arts Gallery,

Normal, Il;

The Santa Fe Festival of the Arts, NM


First Western States Biennial Exhibition; Denver Art Museum; National Collection of Fine

Arts, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Art Museum

"Governor's Invitational Exhibition," Washington State Capitol Museum, Olympia

"Invitational Exhibition," Western Washington University, Bellingham


Ops of the 50's," Phoenix Gallery, New York City

"Tenth Street Now," Landmark Gallery, New York City


"Northwest 77," Invitational Exhibition, Seattle Art Museum

1976 "Northwest Priorities," Seattle Art Museum

1975 "Northwest Artists Today," Part II," Invitational Exhibition, Seattle Art Museum


"The Smith (College) Family Collects," Seattle Art Museum

"Northwest Painters Invitational," Washington State Fine Arts Gallery, Pullman

"The Governor's Invitational Exhibition, 1975," State Capitol Museum, Olympia, WA

"Ourselves," And/Or Gallery, Seattle


"60th Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists," Juried Exhibition, Seattle Art Museum


"Art of the Pacific Northwest," National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institute,

Washington, D.C.; Seattle Art Museum; Portland Art Museum, OR (catalog)

"A Program to Encourage the Advancement of Environmental Art," sponsored by the Talcott Company, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City


"New York Artists from West Broadway Gallery Soho," Rundeturn, Copenhagen


"Inaugural Exhibition," West Broadway Gallery, New York City

"Inaugural Exhibition," Pacific N.W. Arts & Crafts Center, Seattle

"Movement, Optical Phenomena and Light," Albright-Knox Art Gallery, NY


"Pacific Cities," Auckland City Art Museum, New Zealand (catalog)

"The 73rd Western Annual," Denver Art Museum

"Prints and Printmakers," The State of Washington Art Mobile, 1971-72

"Art for Public Places," The Henry Art Gallery, Seattle


"Group Exhibition," Washington State VIP Lounge, World's Fair, Osaka, Japan


"Prospect: Northwest and Prospect: U.S.A.," Seattle Art Museum

"Arch over Nowhere -Thirteen West Coast Artists," Chico State College, CA

"Art and Machines -Motion, Light and Sound," Henry Art Gallery, Seattle

"'27, '55th Northwest Annual Reject Show,

" Richard White Gallery, Seattle




"Artists Abroad," Institute of International Education, Graham Gallery, New York City:

Traveling exhibit, University of California, Los Angeles; Denver Art Museum;

Chicago Arts Club; National Collection of Fine Arts

, Smithsonian Inst.,

Washington, D.C., l970; Miami-Dade Junior College; Eastern Illinois University,

Charleston; Canton Art Institute, Ohio, 1971 (catalog)


"Plus by Minus: Today's Half Century," Second Buffalo Festival of the Arts Today, Albright-KnoxArt Gallery, NY (catalog)

"Second Annual Invitational," Kent State University, OH

"18th Annual Northwest Printmakers Exhibition," Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Cheney-Cowles Gallery, Spokane, Honorable Mention (catalog)




1990 National Endowment for the Arts, Western States Arts Federation, Regional Fellowship in Painting 1979

National Endowment for the Arts, The First Western States Biennial Exhibition, organized and coordinated by the Western States Art Foundation 1965

Invitation to the International Seminar of Artist, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ., Madison, NJ

1958 Fulbright Scholarship in Painting, Rome





The New Orleans Museum of Art

The Whitney Museum, New York City

The Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Museo de Arts Contemporaineo de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Utah State University, Nora Eccles Harrison Museum, Logan, Utah

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo

Seattle Art Museum

Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, Holland

Grey Art Gallery,

New York University, New York City

Fairleigh-Dickinson University, Madison, NJ

Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman Henry Art Gallery, Seattle

Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Bellingham, WA

Columbia Broadcasting Company, New York City

Institute of International Education, United Nations Plaza, New York City

State Highway Building, Olympia, WA

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Seattle City Light, North Annex Building

Physio-Control Building, Redmond, WA

Commission: Pacific Northwest Bell, SeattleDecatur School District, Tacoma,WA

Rainier Bank, Seattle

Seattle Arts Commission

The Galleries, Washington State Convention Center

Safeco Insurance Companies, Seattle

Bellevue Art Museum, WA

Tacoma Art Museum

David Richard Gallery, LLC
211 East 121st Street, New York, NY 10035 | p (212) 882-1705
10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Wednesday - Saturday or by appointment

1570 Pacheco Street, E2, Santa Fe, NM 87505 | p (505) 983-9555 | f (505) 983-1284
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday, or by appointment