Celebratory Paintings Introduction

In her Hell's Kitchen studio, 1986

by Howard J. Rubenstein

I first saw Letizia Pitigliani and her work in 1976 at a press briefing in the Blue Room of City Hall. She was as delightful and exuberant as the paintings she was previewing. These celebrated a great and vibrant New York, at a time when the city was struggling against bankruptcy. They depicted scenes of moonlit ocean liners backed by the glittering towers of lower Manhattan; of a stately procession of sailing ships down the East River at Roosevelt Island; of multicolored fireworks explosions in the night sky over the Soldiers and Sailors Monument by the dark shores of the Hudson River; of a soaring view of the Statue of Liberty encircled by myriad tiny sailboats; and of a gaudy assemblage of thousands of celebrants posing in the heart of Central Park. They were fresh, brilliantly colored and rich in detail.

They were also imagined - scenes of events that would take place in the future, an alluring melange of reality and fantasy, an artist's vision. Although steeped in an atmosphere of enchantment, of story-telling, they were wholly recognizable down to the last detail. That is why they were so right for that particular gathering: they were there to give credence and substance to the hopes and dreams of those planning the upcoming New York Harbor Festival.

I was to see Letizia often after that. She became actively involved in many New York projects - a chronicler of its passions, delights, joys, celebrations. She was Walt Whitman with a paint brush, drawing the resurgent city during the Bicentennial renaissance .

Letizia fell in love with New York - and the City was enriched. Her talent, energy, wit and imagination illuminated scores of city events and spectacles, contributing to their success and to the dynamism of our town.

Letizia's abiding love for New York drove her to create hundreds of paintings. More than fifty of these were printed as big multi-colored posters which were seen by millions of people each day. They were used to illustrate and announce the events and spectacles in airports, train and subway stations, schools, offices, museums, embassies, restaurants and shops. Ry utilizing her academic background and using her beguiling technique she was able to combine in her posters the composition of grand scale paintings, the sinuous smoothness and detail of fine illustrations and the journalistic immediacy of depicted action. The images Letizia created honor and celebrate our City. It is a rare pleasure to find such a joyful talent.