Born in 1922 in New York, the youngest of three children, Paul Crotto grew up in strained circumstances. Drafted into the U.S. Navy in 1942 during the 2nd World War, in 1945 Paul graduated in the Midshipman’s school in Chicago as a Commissioned Officer. After special training at Harvard University, he became a Communication/Coding officer and travelled with the U.S. Naval Group to India and thence Chungking, China. The group was disbanded after the war ended and Paul was sent to Shanghai where he left the Navy and was hired by the U.S. War Department. He worked with the local military administration in Peking during the Civil War between Mao Tse Tung and Chang Kai Shek. During this time he was able to visit Formosa. After the victory of Mao, Paul left China via Manchuria to the U.S. where he finally left the War Department. This Asian period left a lasting deep impression on Paul’s mind and way of thinking.
Thanks to the G.I. Bill, the U.S. Government paid for Paul’s further education. He had already started painting whilst in China, on returning to New York he decided to pursue this path. He studied at the Art Student League in New York City. After graduating in 1949 he travelled to Paris like many other young American artists, to further his art education. Paul studied at the Atelier of Fernand Léger, who is ranked as one of the three major Cubists of the 20th Century, and whose Academy, founded in 1945, was the leading Atelier in Paris for Art Education at this time. Fellow students included Le Corbusier, Sam Francis and Nicolas de Staël among others. Paul rented Georges Braque’s former Atelier at Hotel Roma for 9FF per day during this period.
In 1950, Paul moved to Florence, where he was greatly impressed by Italian Renaissance Art, and furthered his art studies at the Instituti d’Artisti. He stayed there for 2 years learning engraving, bronze casting and diverse painting techniques.
On his return to Paris in 1952, he purchased the atelier just above the Léger Academy, sharing this modest accommodation with the young Bernard Fresson, one of the most famous French cinematic actors in the 20th century. He worked making engraving in Atelier Lacourière in Montmartre and teaching Art at the American School, where Rita Hayworth’s children, Rebecca and Jasmine were his students. During this period he married and started a family, extended the atelier to include another floor and huge studio windows to create more space to live and work. Paul had been constantly exhibiting his work at several well known galleries throughout Paris in group shows and solo exhibitions. It was the famous gallerist Jeanne Castel who finally discovered Paul in 1961. Since then, his art was successfully exhibited not only in Paris, but throughout Europe and the U.S.A. In 1963, he was awarded the “Prix International de Villeneuve-sur-Lot in Paris.
This original collection represents a lifetime’s work and is exclusive to Webbs Fine Art Gallery in the UK. Paul Crotto’s Wikipedia page can be consulted here.
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