Pompeo Coppini’s words resonate still

Posted on

I’d say most people, including artists, have not heard of the Italian born sculptor Pompeo Coppini. Born in 1870, he immigrated to the United States in 1896 to seek fame and fortune. It seems he achieved the fortune part and a significant amount of fame also, but today not many folks have heard of him.  (Click images to enlarge)

Pompeo Luigi Coppini


I was unaware of him until a few years ago when I was invited to judge the Coppini Academy Membership Show in San Antonio, TX. and was introduced to his work by Janice Yow Hindes. You will find the interview I did with her very interesting. Here’s the LINK to it.

Wanting to be informed about this guy, I read his autobiography “From Dawn to Sunset”.  It’s a very interesting and riveting read.

A few things I learned about Coppini are that he was fiercely patriotic of his adopted country, absolutely committed to the highest ideals of art, strongly opinionated and politically astute…even to the point of being prophetic. Some unrestrained blasts that caught my attention I’ll share with you. Be mindful that the comments from his autobiography were made about 70 years ago.


On Modern Art

“Modern art today (what they call modern art, which is not modern at all, but savage and primitive) is backed by our very National Government, who started to subsidize the degenerated minds by making poisonous parasites that would kill the good, healthy noble trees by the roots. Religion, as I understand it, is based on virtue, purity, truth, love of beauty and admiration for all that is good and beautiful, and is not to stand on approval or condonement of a depraved sadistic tendency that is so beastly as to be repulsive, unreligious and especially non-Christian.”


Art is the human thermometer of virtues, and those who will not try to utilize it for the best that it should register will be unmasked by history.


“Any individual who dares to call himself an artist, but who uses a graphic method of distorting, elongating, dissecting or disfiguring God’s given body, has in himself the same lurid joy and satisfaction as a criminal sadist gets in torturing and dismembering animals or human life; and for the churches to tolerate such spreading of vicious art is as criminal on their part as for those who commit the sin.”

Spirit of Sacrifice – 1939 (The cenotaph to the Heroes of the Alamo)

Spirit of Sacrifice (Detail from the monumental work)


On the collapse of virtue

Referring to the 1939 New York World’s Fair…”The general theme was what they call modernistic; but it is better described as semi-primitive and found wanting in good taste or any sort of pleasing harmony”

“In the case of our own art, subsidized by our own government, we have been doing nothing less than creating a disbelief in the truth, a disrespect for morals, discarding historical education, corrupting idealism, and creating a potential vacuum in the youthful minds of lazy parasites. This latter group saw in the new movement a way to get paid by a corruptive dole by posing as artists (the result of President Franklin D Roosevelt’s 1935 (WPA) Works Progress Administration) not realizing the fact that they were cheaply bought to get their vote for the support of a dynasty that wore the outlaw mask, parading, meanwhile plundering and impersonating American democracy. Art is still suffering and will continue to suffer as long as political demagogues rule the destiny of the world, and it will come to its own only when Virtue will be the honor badge of Patriotism and used as a spiritual missionary; when the bad art is discarded and made to starve and be humiliated, just as the modernistic primitives now try to humiliate the virtuous classic.”

“Spirit of Sacrifice” – 1939 (Detail)


Pompeo Coppini is seen here among many of his works.


“Spirit of Sacrifice” – 1939 (Detail)

The value of art

“It has always been my belief that art, unless inspired by religion, history, or patriotism, unless assuming the responsibility of being the exponent of a glorious past, the demonstrator of gratitude of the living for the greatest contributing events that made for our progress and advanced civilization, is not a great art. It has further always been my strong belief that art, without an uplifting mission, is not really a fine art, but a simple commercial decoration of the shallow ornamentation of our homes, or public places, missing thus its high philosophic and moral ideal of educating mankind and failing to become the perpetual teacher of virtues and truth. An art that has no effect on the betterment of the soul, on the building of better character through a strong message that portrays the better events of the past as a philosophical teaching, or that brings emphasis to the greatest deeds of our contemporary people, is to my way of thinking as degenerating as are those who like it that way.”

“It is caused by poor education, selfishness, criminal indifference, greedy passion for money, or other values that do not bring a national inheritance, or extend any farther than our little selves, or our egotistic inner circle. It is equal to the sinful gratitude that children have for their parents, and who believe that they have the social right to squander their parents’ fortunes, accumulated for them through self-imposed sacrifices and hard labor.”


Teachers of art

“Teachers without practical experience are no teachers at all, but morticians that bury valuable talents. Students that enroll in an art school should demand to see what their proposed teachers have done and not be allured by a diploma of Doctor of Fine Arts, and not gamble their youth, time, money, and talent, in the hand of these shyster professors of something they cannot profess.”


Those are some pretty powerful words, very difficult for me to disagree with.

***If you would like to receive this weekly blog automatically, please complete the simple form on the bottom right of this page. To receive my monthly newsletter complete the form on the top right. Thank You.


I’m pleased to offer both of my instructional videos and book as a complete set for the first time. They may also be purchased individually. All are best sellers and include everything I’ve taught in my workshops. You can now take my oil painting workshop right in the comfort of your home, and for a lot less money than physically being present. (Click image to learn more)

For those that have purchased the book, I invite you to join our new Facebook Group – “Limited Palette Unlimited Color”. If you qualify, I hope you’ll join us. Check us out on Facebook. HERE is the link.


Want to take your painting to the next level? I can help. Click HERE to learn about my critique/mentoring programs.


John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master. To view his art and bio, please click HERE


Please Note - You must be logged into a Facebook account in order to write comments. We highly recommend using Google Chrome, Fire Fox, or Internet Explorer since some individuals have not been able to leave comments on the Safari browser. If you have any issues, please email me.