Reviews [Excerpts]


“…The generally white-on-white Nightmare (1986), which depicts a madman in a frozen landscape dotted with faces has some wonderful moments, while the relatively small Man With Mask (1987) contrasts a green hat and a vivid orange mask. It is in many ways a perfect painting that some museum should add to its Cicero holdings.”


Roberta Smith. “Early Works: 1970-1980s.” The New York Times, April 3, 2015.




…”One thing Cicero has that is missing from 90 percent of the art showing in Provincetown’s galleries is conviction: You look at his paintings and instantly know that he believes in what he’s doing. As an artist, once you have that kind of conviction, anything is possible. As an observer, at the point you detect it, taste doesn’t come into it anymore: the belief itself—in the vision, the making—is volatile, and inherently exciting.”


Sebastian Smee, “Myrna Harrison and Carmen Cicero on Exhibit in Provincetown. The Boston Globe, July 5, 2012: G3.




“…It is not hard to see what Miró admired in Mr. Cicero’s art. He works in a style he calls Figurative Expressionism; these figures are elastic and chameleon-like and perhaps could not have existed without the breakthroughs made by European Surrealists. Mr. Cicero’s palette is also very rich, including blunt and declarative primary colors as well as pastels. He has a tendency to outline in black…”


William Zimmer. “Exuberance Coupled With Insight: Urban Life and Movies, Topics in Rich Colors.” The New York Times, April 21, 1991: NJ12.




“…However, there are artists who adopt a style that has affirmed itself in the past and who reaffirm it with their own individuality. One is Carmen Cicero, who is an Expressionist at heart and in mind. Mr. Cicero came to Expressionism many years ago not as an imitator, but as a painter whose artistic sensibility was inherently consonant with Expressionism.

…They [the paintings] require such dimensions because Mr. Cicero’s images are epic in their grim grandeur. His brush stroke has a Herculean sweep, necessitating a spacious arena for its resolution…”


David L. Shirey. “Fair Lawn: An Expressionist with His Own Individuality.” The New York Times, April 7, 1985: A10.




“Carmen Cicero’s stylistic evolution has gone from overtly expressionistic, as in Battle of the Sexes (1972-74), to latently expressionistic, as in After the Ball (1983) where expressionistic touches accent a fairly clear scene. Throughout he has remained witty in a cartoon mode, as if clinging to an illustrative device [that] prevented the picture from going ‘mad’—the color pushing all the way to incoherence. It is the color that is the secret of these works’ success, a blazing color which stops just short of being garish yet is disruptive….”


Donald B. Kuspit. “Graham Gallery, New York; exhibit.” Art in America 72 (December 1984): 165.




“With the opening of the van Gogh show at the Met now a bare two weeks away, it is easy to see him as the possibly somewhat disconcerted great-grandfather of much of today’s high energized and fiercely chromatic figuration. As we shall see from his two versions of the night café in Arles at the Met, van Gogh knew just how to turn up the heat. People who try for that effect today most often end by charring their fingers, but Carmen Cicero is in quite a different league from most of his juniors. At 58, he is a seasoned painter who by 1971 had had five New York solo shows at the Periodot Gallery. Then his studio burned down, and it was as if his earlier career was obliterated over night. The present show is his first in New York since 1971, and the wait—though doubtless it seemed long to him—is well rewarded. Living on the Bowery, Cicero takes late-night subjects that are both rough and raw—death hailing a cab, a young man fleeing in terror from an invisible enemy on the waterfront, or his near-double running for dear life from a burning city in which even the flagstones are red hot. Others have had hideous fancies of the same kind, but Cicero’s paintings have an educated presence. We see at once that he is a true painter, and one who has labored hard and long for his effects of spontaneity. From Currier and Ives to Milton Avery, and from the comic strip to German Expressionism, this former pupil of Robert Motherwell lives with learning lightly borne. Summers in Provincetown have yielded quite another kind of picture—as when an outsize latter-day Venus rises from the sea in Provincetown Princess. The princess herself is the product of wild fancy, but the painting of sea, sky and rock face is in the grand tradition.”


John Russell. “Exhibition Review at Graham Modern Gallery. The New York Times, October 5, 1984: C24.



“…It may or may not be significant that much of the action in these paintings takes place under romantic moonlit skies. Cicero is an accomplished draftsman. But in his oils, he goes to dramatic lengths to deform most of the figures (less so in the more decorative watercolors) while retaining his competence as a painter and, in some wood cutouts, as a sculptor. As a man, however, he seems to be taking refuge in jocular ambivalence. But that being the fashion of the time, why shouldn’t he?”


Grace Glueck. “Review of Exhibition ‘Women: A Changing Picture’ at the Graham Modern Gallery.” The New York Times, July 13, 1984: C22.




“There’s a jewel of a show at the Peridot, 820 Madison Avenue at 67th Street. The artist’s name combines grand opera with classical over tones—Carmen Cicero. He paints up to his name. In fact—it’s one of those shows that sends you out on the town with a dizzy joy. Before going on, let’s sober up briefly and establish our frame of reference: This is a superb minor show. The color sings and sings with as clear and pure a tone as Eddie Calvert’s trumpet…”


Brian O’Doherty. “Art: In a Far-off World, Carmen Cicero Makes Color Sing in His Show at the Peridot Gallery. The New York Times, November 29, 1962: 41.