Andrew Anthony Bucci Jr. was born Jan. 12 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Andrew A. Bucci Sr. (1886-1951) and Christine Cavallo Bucci (1900-1987). His brothers Don and Bob were born in 1920 and 1924, respectively.
A native of Castel Frentano, Italy, Bucci’s father immigrated to the United States in 1904 and owned Bucci Brothers tailor shop in downtown Vicksburg. Christine was born in Vicksburg to Joseph Cavallo, a barber from Colliano, Italy, and Orsola Coccaro from Valle dell’Angelo, Italy.
- ANDREW BUCCI SR. AND CHRISTINE CAVALLO BUCCI, 1919; AND ANDREW BUCCI JR. IN VICKSBURG, C. 1925. (MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY)
Bucci graduated from St. Aloysius at age 16 and enrolled in Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to study architectural engineering. During his freshman year, Bucci took an art course led by abstract artist Ralph Wickiser.
- (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
While a student at Louisiana State University, Bucci began working summers for the Mississippi Highway Department in Jackson, where his uncle, civil engineer Emile Cavallo, was employed. He stayed with Cavallo in the Belhaven neighborhood, and at his uncle’s suggestion, began taking watercolor lessons from Marie Atkinson Hull in her Belhaven Street home. Hull’s early mentorship grew into a lifelong friendship that proved to be mutually influential as the artists’ styles evolved through the decades.
- BUCCI AND MARIE HULL IN THE EARLY 1950S; AND BUCCI’S WATERCOLOR FROM HULL’S CLASS, 1940-41. (MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY)
“I consider Andrew to be the most talented student I ever taught. I think in years to come, he will be numbered among the best artists.”Marie Hull quoted in The Laurel Leader Call, Sept. 20, 1952.
Bucci’s father, Andrew Bucci Sr., served as the Italian consul in Mississippi and was ordered to leave the country at the outbreak of WW2. After a relative helped arrange a meeting with Sen. Theodore Bilbo in Washington, D.C., he received special consideration from the State Department and was allowed to stay in the U.S.
- Photo: Andrew Bucci Sr. in his tailor shop in Vicksburg, circa 1930. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Louisiana State University, Bucci was accepted into the Army Air Force’s weather officer training school at New York University and graduated in September as a second lieutenant. He served on air bases in England and Scotland during WW2.
Bucci’s brothers also served in the European theatre. With support from the G.I. Bill, Don became a civil engineer and Bob became a pathologist.
- Bucci in uniform with his brothers Bob (left) and Don in Vicksburg, 1943. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
At the end of WW2, Bucci took life-drawing classes at Académie Julian in Paris while stationed at Orly Air Base through 1946. Toward the end of his time in Paris, he also indulged a personal interest in fashion by taking private fashion illustration classes led by Mme. Miguel Norero. In a 1984 career summary, he wrote, “We’d do careful studies of fabrics (brocades, etc.) draped on a form. Mme. Norero was supposed to be able to go to a fashion show and come out and draw 30-40 designs from memory. Being a weatherman, I worked rotating shifts and could get into town for classes. We had nice bus service from Orly to Place Vendome where the Air Transport Command had an office.”
- BUCCI AT ORLY AIR BASE, APRIL 1946; AND A PAGE FROM BUCCI’S FASHION ILLUSTRATION SKETCHBOOK, 1945-46. (MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY)
When his WW2 military service came to an end, Bucci, 24, returned home to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and began working at the local U.S. Weather Bureau office. With encouragement from Marie Hull, and with support from the G.I. Bill, he applied to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He also continued creating artwork under Hull’s tutelage, and one of his drawings won first place in the Mississippi Capitol Street Art Show in Jackson.
- Bucci at the Weather Bureau in Vicksburg, 1947. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
On Aug. 26, the Vicksburg Herald reported that Bucci had been the guest speaker at a recent Y Men’s Club weekly supper meeting. The theme was weather — “a popular subject which everyone talks about but knows little.”
In October, Bucci, 25, left his job with the Weather Bureau in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Bucci said his most influential teacher at SAIC was painting instructor Paul Wieghardt.
That year, his work was exhibited for the first time by the Mississippi Art Association (Mississippi Museum of Art) as well as the Wolfe Gallery in Jackson.
- SELF-PORTRAIT WITH DOGWOOD FLOWER IN STYLE OF 15TH CENT. FLEMISH PAINTER, 1949. (MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY / PHOTO BY MARK GEIL)
During the fall semester at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bucci’s painting of chickens was chosen by students to advertise the annual SAIC student exhibition coinciding with the school’s 70th anniversary.
In December, one of Bucci’s paintings won first prize for traditional watercolors in the Memphis Biennial Exhibition of Paintings at Memphis Academy of Art. His work also was shown at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, and in the Corpus Christi Art Exhibit and Sale in Texas.
- BUCCI (LEFT) AT INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL PARK, 1948; AND A STUDENT EXHIBITION ANNOUNCEMENT FEATURING BUCCI’S ARTWORK. (MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY)
In January, the Mississippi Art Association (Mississippi Museum of Art) presented an exhibition in Jackson featuring works by Bucci and Homer Casteel Jr.
In August, Bucci exhibited work in a solo show at Allison’s Wells Hotel in Way, Mississippi, where proprietors John and Hosford Fontaine and a group of artists had established Mississippi’s first art colony. In addition to solo and group shows in following years, Bucci taught painting workshops.
“When the Art Colony was in session, experimental art might appear mysteriously in the guest rooms, the plumbing was always independent, and for several seasons chicken wire was much in favor for decorating effects.”Charlotte Capers in the foreword to “Allison’s Wells, the Last Mississippi Spa,” by Hosford Fontaine (1981).
- PRESS CLIPPINGS ABOUT BUCCI’S 1949 SHOW AT ALLISON’S WELLS; AND THE BACK COVER OF FONTAINE’S BOOK FEATURING HIS DRAWING OF “THE VERANDAS OF ALLISON’S.” (MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY)
On June 8, Bucci, 29, received a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While at SAIC, Bucci befriended Eugene Bennett of Medford, Oregon, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship.
After graduating from SAIC, Bucci studied fashion illustration for several months at Parsons School of Design in New York City. Fashion was a recurrent theme in Bucci’s artwork throughout his career.
On Dec. 5, Bucci’s father, Andrew Bucci Sr., 65, died in Vicksburg.
- Photo: Bucci with SAIC graduates Helen Harkonen, Eugene Bennett, and Eugenia Lynde, 1951. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
- Coney Island scene from a Parsons sketchbook, 1951. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
While studying fashion illustration at Parsons School of Design, Bucci was called back into service during the Korean War as a weather officer at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio, where he was stationed for 15 months.
Back home, Bucci’s art was gaining considerable notice. His work was exhibited for the first time at Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel and also with the Mississippi Delta Art Association in Greenwood, the Municipal Art Gallery in Jackson, and Mississippi State College for Women (Mississippi University for Women) in Columbus. In December, his artwork won first place in the Mississippi Art Association Members’ Show.
- Columbus, Ohio –1952-53. Watercolor. (Private collection)
In January, while serving as a weather officer at Lockbourne Air Base in Ohio, Bucci traveled to Mississippi to deliver a talk to the Allison’s Wells Hotel art colony about an exhibit there featuring proprietor John Fontaine’s watercolors. Also that month, Bucci’s work was exhibited at Carnegie Public Library in Clarksdale, Mississippi, at Mobile Public Library with the Watercolor Society of Alabama, and in the annual exhibition of paintings and sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
In September, Bucci was released from military duty in Ohio and returned to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to begin his M.F.A. studies. He continued his military service in the Air Force Reserve and eventually retired at the rank of major.
- Bucci’s WW2 military portrait. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
In April, Bucci was chosen to represent Mississippi in an exhibition showcasing the work of 15 Southeastern artists at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
On June 11, Bucci, 32, received an M.F.A. in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Jackson Clarion-Ledger columnist Mary Alice Bookhart reported that he was offered a teaching job at SAIC but “turned it down, we hear, because he wants time to do some serious painting himself.” Bucci returned to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and was rehired by the local U.S. Weather Bureau office.
That summer, his work was exhibited at Mandel Bros. department store gallery in Chicago. “Bucci is modern, and someone to reckon with,” wrote art critic Eleanor Jewett in the July 25 Chicago Sunday Tribune.
Later that year, his work won first purchase prize in the National Oil Painting Exhibition presented by the Mississippi Art Association (Mississippi Museum of Art). In a letter dated Nov. 5, exhibition juror and Tulane University art professor Pat Trivigno wrote, “Your things were certainly the most alive pieces of painting there, for that matter anywhere. You have a marvelous painter’s sense in knowing how far to carry a statement, where to underplay it, where to develop and expand it.”
- Photo: Andrew Bucci in 1954. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
- Lake St. John (Louisiana), 1954. Watercolor. (Private collection)
In April, the U.S. Weather Bureau transferred Bucci from Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Greenville, South Carolina. On Oct. 17, The Greenville Piedmont published an article about Bucci titled If He Can’t Predict Weather, He Can Paint It: “… Unmarried as yet, the artist therefore has time to devote to his avocation, and whiles away his off-hours in a sunlit room on W. Coffee St., which he uses as a studio.”
It didn’t take long for art watchers in South Carolina to take notice. Bucci’s awards that year included a purchase prize in the Guild of South Carolina Artists’ annual exhibition in Florence, and the Greenville Art Gallery expressed interest in hosting a solo exhibition.
That year Bucci entered work in shows at the Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans, the Mississippi Art Association in Jackson, and the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, and in the annual Southeastern Art Exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Bucci in The Greenville Piedmont, 1955. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
In January, several months after moving to Greenville, South Carolina, to work for the Weather Bureau, Bucci’s artwork was on view in a solo show at the Greenville Art Gallery. The Greenville Piedmont reported that 50 people attended the opening reception, along with an aside that revealed a prevailing skepticism about abstract art: “Mr. Bucci must get his ideas from somewhere! But where? Only Mr. Bucci knows, for he says he paints like he feels.”
In March, Bucci’s art made headlines again when his painting, Field of Flowers, won first place and $500 in the New Orleans Art Association Annual Spring Exhibition at Isaac Delgado Museum (New Orleans Museum of Art).
In April, a promotion by the U.S. Weather Bureau prompted another move — this time to the National Weather Analysis Center outside of Washington, D.C. It was Bucci’s final job transfer, which allowed him to settle down and make the area his home for nearly six decades.
- Field of Flowers, 1955. Oil on canvas. (Estate collection)
While a resident of Washington, D.C., Bucci kept up a busy art schedule in his home state. In October, he exhibited work at McCarty’s Pottery in Merigold, Mississippi. A Nov. 5 article about the show in the Bolivar Commercial included his quote: “About pictures, I don’t know what my conceptions are… Guess the word that best explains what I look for is ‘felicity.’ It doesn’t have to be abstract or realistic, or loud or subtle. Just what seems to have been the right idea done the right way.”
His art also won awards in exhibitions presented by the Alabama Watercolor Society and the Mississippi Art Association (Mississippi Museum of Art).
- Photo: Bucci with his plein air art supplies, November 1958. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
- Anacostia River – DC, 1959-62. Watercolor and charcoal. (Estate collection)
Bucci took time off from the National Weather Service to travel in Europe for six weeks, where he concentrated on art museums and galleries.
It was a busy year for exhibitions in Mississippi: His work was featured in solo shows with the Mississippi Art Association (Mississippi Museum of Art) and the Municipal Art Gallery in Jackson, Mississippi College in Clinton, and Allison’s Wells in Way.
- Photo: Bucci painting at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, 1960. Photo by Prentiss Taylor. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
- Old Amphitheatre – Arlington Nat’l Cemetery (detail), 1960. Watercolor and charcoal. (Estate collection)
In November, Bucci won first place in the National Oil Painting Exhibition presented by the Mississippi Art Association (Mississippi Museum of Art).
He also entered work in exhibitions hosted by the Washington Watercolor Association in Washington, D.C., The Arkansas Center in Little Rock, and three Tennessee venues — the Knoxville Art Center, East Tennessee State College in Johnson City, and Hunter Gallery in Chattanooga.
- Bucci in 1961, age 39. (Andrew Bucci estate)
Seven years after moving to the nation’s capital to work for the National Weather Service, Bucci began serving a two-year term as president of the Washington Water Color Association.
He also continued to earn accolades in Mississippi. Bucci was the first painter to receive the Henry H. Bellamann Foundation Award of $1,000 for outstanding achievement in the arts. Exhibitions that year included a solo show at Chilton Galleries in Memphis, Tennessee, and the Maryland Regional Exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
- Meridian Hill Park, Washington, D.C., 1964. Watercolor and charcoal. (Private collection)
As he did repeatedly through the years, Bucci drove from his home in Washington, D.C., to Mississippi to participate in art events. On June 7, the Mississippi Art Association (Mississippi Museum of Art) presented a “tea and gallery talk” featuring Bucci’s oils and watercolors at the Municipal Art Gallery in Jackson.
“In his free time, he paints along the rivers and shorelines of the Washington area, dividing his time between vigorous oils and fragile, suggestive watercolors,” wrote Jackson arts columnist Louis Dollarhide. “The collection opening today is large enough to give the gallery visitor a clear view of the many-sided talents of this highly individual artist… In both oils and watercolors, Andrew works from the natural scene or the figure in the direction of simplification, rather than photographic realization.”
- St. Jones River III, 1964. Oil on canvas. (Estate collection)
After Allison’s Wells Hotel burned down in 1963, the Mississippi Art Colony regrouped in Stafford Springs. Bucci continued his involvement with the colony and began exhibiting art and teaching at La Font Inn in Pascagoula, where Hosford Fontaine had established an artist’s workshop.
In April, Bucci served as a juror for the Peninsula Art Association’s show at Christopher Newport College in Newport News, Virginia.
Awards in 1966 included an honorable mention in the Mississippi Art Association’s 56th National Oil Painting Exhibition in November and best in show during the Association’s annual membership exhibition in December.
- Bucci (foreground) in Stafford Springs, fall 1966. (Photo courtesy of Mississippi Art Colony)
On Dec. 11, the U.S. Postal Service issued the 5-cent postage stamp designed by Bucci to commemorate Mississippi’s 150th anniversary of statehood. Bucci attended the first-day issue program held at the City Auditorium in Natchez, Mississippi.
- First day of issue postcard, 1967. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
In January, Bucci, 46, exhibited work at Delta State College in Cleveland, Mississippi: “He distills a scene or a figure, a leaf or flower into a design that is at once abstract and real. I know of no other artist working today who can do as much with a line as he does,” wrote Jackson arts columnist Louis Dollarhide, whose Jan. 14 Clarion-Ledger article appeared with a photo of Marie Hull, Bucci and Delta State art department head Malcolm Norwood at the exhibition opening.
Bucci’s exhibitions that year included the Mary Buie Museum in Oxford, Mississippi; La Font Inn in Pascagoula, Mississippi; and Morris Cafritz Memorial Hospital (United Medical Hospital) in Washington, D.C.
- Pokeweed, 1967. Watercolor and charcoal. (Estate collection)
In April, as Bucci neared retirement from the National Weather Service, he moved from an apartment in Washington, D.C. to a new home in rural Fort Washington, Maryland, not far from the Potomac River.
- Bucci, 50, at his home in Maryland,1972. Photo by Prentiss Taylor. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
- Untitled, 1972. Oil and charcoal on paper. (Private collection)
The Art of Marie Hull by Malcolm Norwood, Virginia McGehee and William Haynie was published by University Press of Mississippi. It includes a photo of Bucci with the caption, “Andrew Bucci, prominent artist of Washington, D.C. (formerly of Vicksburg, Mississippi) with whom Marie Hull taught and studied — to discover that learning is a reciprocal process.”
That year Bucci’s work was exhibited in solo shows with the Vicksburg Art Association in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and at La Font Inn in Pascagoula, Mississippi; and he served as a juror for the Portsmouth Seawall Art Show in Virginia.
Bucci began exhibiting work in solo and group shows at Gulf/South Gallery in McComb, Mississippi, owned by friend and artist Bess Dawson.
He also taught a painting workshop and exhibited work at La Font Inn in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and submitted work to the Washington Watercolor Art Show.
- Photo: Bucci and Bess Dawson in McComb, 1992. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
In May, Bucci traveled to Italy with his brothers Bob and Don and their uncle, Emile Cavallo. Their itinerary included stops in Rome, Florence, Venice, Como and Milan.
In September, Bucci, 57, retired from the National Weather Service after more than 25 years of service. “Your accomplishments as a forecaster/interpreter and your quiet professionalism have been long appreciated by both your peers and supervisors,” wrote NWS Director Richard Hallgren in a letter to Bucci dated Sept. 27.
Following his retirement, Bucci’s work was featured in three solo exhibitions in Mississippi — at La Font Inn in Pascagoula, the Municipal Art Gallery in Jackson, and Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel. He also entered work in the Washington Watercolor Association Show.
- PHOTO OF BUCCI’S RETIREMENT PARTY; AND BUCCI’S SLIDE PHOTO OF VENICE, 1979. (ANDREW BUCCI ESTATE)
On Feb. 13, Bucci spoke at an award dinner in Vicksburg, Mississippi, honoring artist Caroline Compton, where she was presented a distinguished service award from Mayor Demery Grubbs.
On Nov. 21, Marie Hull, 90, died in Jackson, Mississippi.
- Bucci’s photo of Marie Hull, 1970s. (Andrew Bucci estate)
In April, Bucci served as a juror for the Cottonlandia Collection Competition in Greenwood, Mississippi (now the Museum of the Mississippi Delta).
In October, his work was exhibited at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi.
- Blossoms, undated. Oil on canvas. (Private collection)
Bucci, 61, led spring painting workshops for the Mississippi Art Colony at Camp Henry Jacobs in Utica, Mississippi.
Later that year he moved temporarily to Cleveland, Mississippi, to serve as artist in residence for the fall semester at Delta State University, where he taught painting and drawing. His work also was exhibited at the Wright Art Center at DSU.
- BUCCI AND DSU FACULTY MEMBERS IN THE BOLIVAR COMMERCIAL, 1983. (MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY)
In March, the reference room in Hinds Junior College’s McClendon Library was christened the Andrew Bucci Room during a ceremony on the Raymond, Mississippi campus. Bucci had donated many paintings to the college, now known as Hinds Community College, for its permanent collection.
Bucci’s travels that year included a trip to Alaska with family members and friends.
- Bucci at Hinds Community College, 1985. (Photo courtesy of HCC)
- Bucci’s slide photo of Alaska, 1985. (Andrew Bucci estate)
On May 21, Bucci’s mother, Christine Cavallo Bucci, 87, died in New Jersey. After he moved to Washington, D.C., Bucci encouraged his mother to move there and attend the Hannah Harrison Career School, which provided free housekeeping management training for women. After completing the program, she was employed by hospitals in the northeast and eventually settled in East Orange, New Jersey.
Bucci exhibited work that year at Ainilian Gallery in Washington, D.C., and led fall painting workshops for the Mississippi Art Colony at Camp Henry Jacobs in Utica, Mississippi.
- Bucci and his mother at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Bucci estate)
In the spring, Bucci travelled through the Southwest U.S. with Oregon artist Eugene Bennett and produced a series of landscapes depicting the region’s iconic scenery.
That year, his work won a merit award in a juried show presented by the Oxon Hill Manor Foundation in Maryland.
- Bucci’s photo of Gene Bennett in Monument Valley, Utah, 1988. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
- Monument Valley, 1988. Colored pencil. (Estate collection)
In February, Bucci participated in a symposium at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, focusing on a Marie Hull retrospective on view at DSU’s Wright Art Center.
Bucci also was interviewed in his Maryland home for an episode of Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Conversations series about Hull: “What she had was just a rock-solid technique and a fine sense of color. And she had a good native intelligence and intuition about what made a good picture.”
That year Bucci exhibited work with the Mississippi Society of New York and at Brown’s Fine Art & Framing in Jackson, Mississippi.
- Video courtesy of MPB.
Bucci’s work was featured in exhibitions at The Art Gallery at Kingsborough Community College (Kingsborough Art Museum), City University of New York; Davies Memorial Unitarian Church in Camp Springs, Maryland; and Brown’s Fine Art & Framing in Jackson, Mississippi.
- Untitled, 1992. Oil on paper. (Private collection)
Bucci began exhibiting work at Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans.
“Bucci’s whole development was a distillation not only of his direct responses to the natural world, not only of the formal elements of pictorial art, but of the entire set of premises, both formal and iconographic, that developed in his own art over the course of his lifetime. In one sense, his work was a search for innocence in an age of experience. Even more, it was a search for a way to represent a private vision with a potency that expressed his inner experience… Perhaps this is the way Andrew Bucci should be remembered — as an artist who was willing to give of himself with every new painting, and with it, his joie de vivre.”Excerpt from Innocence in an Age of Experience by Erika Olinger, published in the Andrew Bucci: Rediscovered exhibition catalogue, Belhaven University, 2015.
- Bucci and Erika Olinger, director of Cole Pratt Gallery, 2014. (Photo by Margaret Bucci)
Art in Mississippi – 1720-1980 by Patti Carr Black was published by University Press of Mississippi in association with the Mississippi Historical Society and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History: “[Bucci’s] art career has been distinguished and steady, his art lyrical and inventive.”
- Andrew Bucci, undated photo. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
In a review of Bucci’s landscapes on view at Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans, art critic Eric Bookhardt called Bucci “a master of gestural understatement” and found parallels with Abstract Expressionism. One of Bucci’s “ethereal” watercolors reminded Bookhardt of “the gestural drip paintings of Jackson Pollock and the gestural ink drawings of wooded landscapes by the great Japanese Zen masters… But, unlike Pollock, for Bucci less is more; his river willows are as subtle and translucent as haiku poems, barely there at all.” – Laconic Landscapes, Gambit Weekly, Jan. 22, 2002.
- Untitled landscape, 1978. Watercolor and charcoal. (Private collection)
Bucci’s painting Fox Fire was featured in The Mississippi Story exhibition at Mississippi Museum of Art and in the accompanying book by Patti Carr Black: “Bucci was one of the first Mississippi artists to successfully use a nonobjective approach to his landscapes… His signature style is calligraphic, with flowing structural lines and delicate colors… Fox Fire is the luminescence of decaying wood, perhaps a memory of Bucci’s childhood on the river.”
- Fox Fire, 1976. Oil on board. Collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art.
On April 19, Cole Pratt, 53, died in New Orleans. In June, Bucci’s work was featured in A Tribute to Cole Pratt, His Gallery’s First Fifteen Years, 1993-2008, at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
In November, A Tradition of His Own: The Art of Andrew Bucci, by Elizabeth Abston, appeared in Mississippi Magazine: “I really like the philosophy behind Japanese prints. The painting simply floats on the paper and draws attention only to itself… I also find myself drawn to [Marc] Chagall’s coloring — and that arbitrary streak with [Georges] Braque is just great.”
On Feb. 26, Bucci received the Mississippi Arts Commission Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for lifetime achievement in the visual arts during a ceremony at Galloway Methodist Church in Jackson. He was 87.
“He gets art down to its bare essentials. Just modernist gems.”William Dunlap, master of ceremonies, quoted in The Vicksburg Post.
- BUCCI ACCEPTING THE GOVERNOR’S AWARD, 2009. (COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI ARTS COMMISSION / PHOTO BY JAMES PATTERSON)
On Nov. 2, Bucci’s friend, artist Eugene Bennett, 88, died in Jacksonville, Oregon.
On Nov. 20, Bucci’s older brother, Don Bucci Sr., 90, died in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Teacher and Student: Abstract Works of Marie Hull and Andrew Bucci, an exhibition organized by the Mississippi Museum of Art for its affiliate program, explored the reciprocal relationship of the artists as teacher and student. The exhibition appeared at the University of Mississippi Museum in Oxford, Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston.
- Don and Andrew Bucci in Vicksburg, 2009. (Family photo)
In March, The Surprising Andrew Bucci – Whimsical Master of Line and Color, by Teresa Nicholas, appeared in Delta Magazine: “Bucci labels his style eclectic. ‘I borrowed different things from different people. I’m a synthesizer… In a way, talent is a sense of order. It’s how you put things together… If a painting is too ordered, you get a lot of information you don’t really need. Like all those commercials on TV.’”
On June 9, The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters’ annual awards ceremony was held in Jackson. Bucci, 90, recipient of an MIAL Lifetime Achievement Award, had made plans to attend but fell ill a few days before the ceremony and was briefly hospitalized in Maryland.
A book published that year by Smithsonian Books highlighted Bucci’s original Christmas cards, a tradition that began during his student years in Chicago. Handmade Holiday Cards from 20th Century Artists by Mary Savig featured reproductions of two of Bucci’s original Christmas cards from 1957 and 1964.
- CHRISTMAS CARD, 1964. (ESTATE COLLECTION / PHOTO BY MARK GEIL)
Bucci’s painting, Figure in Green, was chosen as the signature image of the 2014 USA International Ballet competition in Jackson, Mississippi. On Oct. 8, he participated in the poster unveiling and media event at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson.
- Bucci (right) at Thalia Mara Hall, 2013. (Photo courtesy of WLBT)
- Figure in Green, 1995. Oil on paper. (Private collection)
The last year of Bucci’s life was also one of the most eventful. Serving as the official artist of the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, was a career highlight, and he was excited about a retrospective of his work taking shape at Belhaven University in Jackson. He often talked about moving back to Vicksburg, his hometown, after living away for nearly 60 years — a bittersweet reality that finally came to pass.
On March 25, Bucci was the guest of honor at “Ballet, Blues & Bucci,” a fundraiser hosted by Friends of the IBC at Brown’s Fine Art & Framing in Jackson.
In April, Bucci was forced to evacuate his Fort Washington, Maryland home of 41 years after a landslide caused by heavy rainfall prompted Prince George’s County officials to declare the neighborhood unsafe. While homes were not damaged, the incident left many residents stranded indefinitely without utilities. Bucci had his artwork and belongings moved to storage and began living in hotels.
On June 17, Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson hosted “Mississippi Homecoming 2014,” a Q&A program with Bucci honoring him as the USA IBC’s official artist. “I know when I go away and come back, when I cross the state line, I feel like I’m home.”
In September, Bucci was invited by Jack Kyle, then senior director of arts development at Belhaven University, to present a retrospective of his work in the university gallery. They agreed the exhibition would take place after Bucci completed his move back to Mississippi.
In late October, shortly after resettling in Vicksburg, Bucci began experiencing a series of health problems and hospitalizations. On Nov. 16, Bucci, 92, died at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland.
- Bucci at Brown’s Fine Art, March 2014. (Photo by Margaret Bucci)
- Bucci with ballerina Nina Ananiashvili at the Mississippi Museum of Art, June 2014. (Photo courtesy of USA IBC)
On May 26, Andrew Bucci: Rediscovered opened at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, and ran through Aug. 29.
“Andrew Bucci’s brushstrokes — a generous, confetti-like staccato that pulses with energy and spirit — enliven the canvases to such a degree it’s easy to forget, for a moment, that he’s gone.”Sherry Lucas, The Clarion-Ledger, May 25, 2015.
- Bucci painting in his Maryland studio, 1990. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History)
Bucci’s paintings appeared in two exhibitions coinciding with Mississippi’s bicentennial of statehood: The River in Mississippi Museum of Art’s Picturing Mississippi: Land of Plenty, Pain, and Promise; and In Light in Lauren Rogers Museum of Art’s From Mississippi: Another Look at Our Artistic Heritage.
- The River, c. 1955. Oil on canvas. (Estate collection)
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History established the Andrew Bucci Collection comprising student sketchbooks and artwork, scrapbooks, photographs and other materials donated by Bucci’s estate.
- GEOMETRIC SELF-PORTRAIT, C. 1950. (MISSISSIPPI DEPT. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY / PHOTO BY MARK GEIL)
Jan. 12 would have been Andrew Bucci’s 100th birthday. In honor of his contributions to the arts and the centennial of his birth, the Mississippi Senate designated Jan. 12 “Andrew Bucci Day” in Mississippi. Bucci’s centennial celebration began with the opening of Emerging Grace: Andrew Bucci’s Early Works, an exhibition curated by Beth Batton and presented by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Other centennial exhibitions followed at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, the Vicksburg Art Association’s Constitution Firehouse Gallery, and Walter Anderson Museum of Art. See the 100th Anniversary page for details.
In June, the Community Foundation for Mississippi introduced the Friends of Andrew Bucci Fund, which was established in partnership with Bucci’s estate to provide grants to PreK-12 teachers to purchase art supplies.
In October, the USA International Ballet Competition unveiled its 2023 commemorative poster featuring Andrew Bucci’s painting of a dancer. Bucci’s artwork also appeared on the 2014 USA IBC poster and program.
- View of Vicksburg, Miss., in the Style of Sung Dynasty Landscape Scroll, 1949. (Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History / Photo by Mark Geil)
- View the Andrew Bucci Day proclamation