The calligraphic gestures and soft colors that compose many of Andrew Bucci’s paintings won the artist widespread recognition within and beyond Mississippi. Born in Vicksburg on 12 January 1922, Bucci studied art as a teenager, though his high school did not offer formal classes. Beginning at age seventeen he spent summers painting under longtime mentor and revered painter Marie Hull and earned a degree in architectural engineering from Louisiana State University. During World War II Bucci served as a meteorologist, training at New York University before being sent to Europe, where he also studied at the Académie Julian in Paris. After the war he resumed his work under Hull and had his first show at Allison’s Art Colony (now the Mississippi Art Colony) in 1947. That year he also enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1952 and a master of fine arts degree in 1954.
Bucci’s career with the US Weather Bureau took him to Washington, D.C., for several decades. He often exhibited with the Society of Washington Artists and served as president of the Washington Watercolor Society.
Bucci was one of the first Mississippi artists to use a nonobjective approach to his landscapes. His work is lyrical and inventive, embracing expressionism and its variations. His signature style is calligraphic, with flowing structural lines and delicate colors. While sometimes grouped with the abstract expressionists, Bucci created figures and landscapes that at times may be defined as gesture-based (meaning that they result from quick movements of the brush and convey a sense of motion). The oil painting Fox Fire (1976), included in a 2007 Mississippi Museum of Art exhibition, The Mississippi Story, shows many of his characteristic attributes: soft colors, gestural strokes, an Asian aspect. (Fox fire is the luminescence of decaying wood, perhaps a memory of Bucci’s childhood on the Mississippi River.) Bucci’s watercolors from the 1960s, influenced by Japanese woodblock prints, have been described as “subtle and translucent as haiku poems.”
In contrast to Hull’s vibrant use of color and energetic abstraction, Bucci’s paintings are frequently softer and more formal—refined in their employ of watercolor and oil. Following Bucci’s studies at the Art Institute of Chicago, Hull took on more of a mentee role, learning from her erstwhile pupil the formal techniques he had picked up. In 2010 the University of Mississippi Museum presented the exhibition Teacher and Student: The Abstract Works of Marie Hull and Andrew Bucci.
Bucci’s paintings have been viewed throughout the South and East for more than half a century and included in shows at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others. In 2009 Bucci received the Governor’s Excellence in the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award; three years later, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters also presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Several of Bucci’s works and his papers are housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art. His paintings are included in the collections of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Arkansas Art Center, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Florence Art Gallery in South Carolina, Delta State University, Hinds Junior College, and Mississippi University for Women.
He moved back to Vicksburg shortly before his death on 16 November 2014.
- Patti Carr Black, Art in Mississippi, 1720–1980 (1998)
- Patti Carr Black, The Mississippi Story (2007)
- Andrew Bucci, Smithsonian Archives of American Art website, www.aaa.si.edu/
- Sherry Lucas, Jackson Clarion-Ledger (18 November 2014)