Ever since coming to this country, which he entered under rather unusual circumstances, Michael Califano’s best friends have been the Jews whose assistance and cooperation to a large degree made it possible for him to make his mark in the artistic world. And he is so outraged by the Hitlerite oppression of Jewry that one of his most important paintings recently exhibited at the Independent Artists’ is really a personal protest entitled "The Ignominy of the Twentieth Century."
But Califano feels that he must show his friendship for the Jews, who aided him materially in an hour of need, in a more tangible form. As a result he is printing at his own expense, a million post cards bearing a reproduction in color, of that painting, to be sold throughout the country. Proceeds will benefit German Jewish refugees. He has opened negotiations with the American Jewish Congress, which organization he would like to take charge of the sales proposition.
The first batch of cards is coming off the press May 11 or 12, and Mr. Califano hopes to "flood the country" with them. An inscription on the back reads: "Neither hatred nor persecution can stay the progress of science and civilization."
"The Ignominy of the Twentieth Century" depicts Professor Albert Einstein, in an attitude of despair, facing Hitler, whose fist is clenched. On Hitler’s side is a brown-shirted storm trooper. Behind them is visible an arm supporting a sword from which blood is dripping.
Califano is affected with deafness which came to him during the late war. Consequently when he came here from Italy in 1922, an effort was made to deport him. While on Ellis Island he painted a scene from the New York harbor and the portrait of an eighteen-year old girl who was also being detained with her mother. The latter picture and several of his landscapes were displayed at the City Club and were brought to the attention of Secretary of Labor Davis who promptly released the gifted young immigrant.
He then established a studio in New York, exhibited some of his work at the Civic Club and the Vanderbilt Hotel. His portrait and landscape works were in particular demand. A considerable number of notables have sat for him. Later he went to Florida where he worked and disposed of a number of paintings.
Califano established a branch studio in Washington, D. C., where he painted a number of the nation’s notables. He also has to his credit a large gallery of Roman historical scenes and architecture.
Born in Naples, Califano was the son of Victorio Califano, a captain, who distinguished himself in a number of rescues on rough seas. His parents intended Michael to become an engineer, but at an early age he displayed extraordinary aptitude for painting and thenceforth devoted himself to its pursuit. He is a graduate of the Naples Institute of Fine Arts. His works show the influence of the masters under whom he studied-Sista, Volpe, Vetri and others.
While in Italy a number of his paintings were awarded prizes in various exhibitions. One of them he presented to King Victor Emmanuel during an exhibition. At each of nine annual exhibits in Europe Califano won a prize. New laurels were added after exhibiting in Buenos Aires and elsewhere.
He is married, has three children, resides in Newark, depends for his living entirely on his art.
"Jews are my best friends here," says Artist Califano. "They took care of my art and paid real money for it.
"I painted this picture as an expression of my feeling and sympathy for the Jewish people."
He leaves no room for doubts as to his sentiments:
"Hitler must go to hell!"
"When will it happen?" he was asked.
"Within a year," he said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.