Remembering Charles Movalli: His Life + Work

Fred and Ginger“Fred and Ginger” by Charles Movalli (1945-2016)

“It is with a very heavy heart that I tell you we have lost our beloved colleague and master painter, Charles Movalli,” said Susan of Bayview Gallery in Brunswick. “Charlie battled multiple myeloma for 16 years. Despite many clinical trials and experimental therapies, the cancer claimed his life last week. He was 70 years old.”

Charles had an extraordinary life.  With his wife, Dale Ratcliff, he lived in his childhood home in Gloucester, MA, where he and Dale maintained their studios.  Despite an early interest in art, Movalli earned a Ph.D in English, edited three books on the life and work of his mentor, Emile Gruppe, and wrote numerous journal articles forAmerican Artist as well as other publications.

“Always generous with his time and eager to share his knowledge, Charles hosted Robert Colburn (our former Gallery Director) and me at his studio,” continued Susan at Bayview Gallery. “Robert interviewed Movalli for a piece we published in Constant Contact last year.  The most fitting tribute I can offer Charles is to share with you the highlights from Robert’s comments following his interview with this 21st Century Master.”

Some of the paintings Robert used in discussing Movalli’s insights and techniques have been sold.  But, clicking on any of the photos will display all of Movalli’s available work on the Bayview Gallery website.

Robert Colburn writes: “Charles Movalli had what I consider the most essential quality of a true artist – an insatiable curiosity for life and the world around him. It was this quality that drove him to constantly be questioning his own work, constantly be analyzing the work of other artists and generously sharing his time and experiences with artists of every skill level.

Charlie was modest to a fault, always interested in learning from others as much as he was teaching them, and always striving to dispel the “mystery” of art making, giving access to all who were interested in trying their hand at it.

When Susan and I visited the Movallis in Gloucester, Charlie and I spent four hours talking about art — his art, my art, and art in general.

At first blush, Charlie’s paintings can seem a bit intimidating. Our conversation really helped open up his paintings for me in ways that I hadn’t thought of before.  Most importantly, I came to understand that the lively brushwork and luscious surfaces on his canvases were made possible by careful consideration of essential elements of composition.

Charlie wasn’t a slave to rules or formula, but he believed in structure, almost as if, in every painting, he built a stage for the paint to sing and dance on.”