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Cal Massey – RIP

Comic artist, illustrator, sculptor Cal Massey has passed away.

Calvin Levi (Cal) Massey
February 10, 1926 – June 10, 2019

 

From the Philadelphia Inquirer report:

The artist Cal Massey, who created hundreds of paintings, illustrations, designs and sculptures over a career of nearly 70 years, died June 11 at Virtua Marlton Hospital. He was 93 and had lived in Moorestown, N.J.

Mr. Massey, who was born Calvin L. Massey on Feb. 10, 1926, grew up outside Philadelphia in Morton and later Darby, with his mother, Bessie Mayo Massey and four siblings.

“I paint because I have to; it’s my way of communicating with the world around me,” he once told an interviewer.

 

Cal’s time as a comic book artist from the late 1940s to the mid 1950s, according to Jerry Bails, coincided with the peak “outrageous” tendencies of comic books; and Cal, mostly for the company that would become Marvel, did his share of the stuff.

 

After his comic book career Cal went on to a very impressive fine arts career.

“Calvin led a fabulous life,” Iris Massey said. “He was the only black artist that has both a statue that he designed in Valley Forge Park and at Ellis Island, at the Statue of Liberty. He designed Olympic medals. There were just so many fabulous things he did. It would have been unusual for anybody to have done in a lifetime.”

Mr. Massey was particularly famous for his portraits showing African Americans through powerful and regal images. Among some of the more famous of his works are “Angel Heart,” and “The Ashanti Woman.” His wife was the model for the latter work.

In the mid 1980s, Mr. Massey sculpted a bas relief plaque showing two French West Indian immigrants arriving at Ellis Island as part Statue of Liberty Foundation’s renovation project. As a result of that work, the Olympic Committee hired him to be one of 13 artists to design commemorative medals for the 1996 summer games. His High Jump design, featuring young black woman, knees bent, was the only commemorative medal for that Olympics to depict a black person.

In the mid 1980s, Mr. Massey sculpted a bas relief plaque showing two French West Indian immigrants arriving at Ellis Island as part Statue of Liberty Foundation’s renovation project. As a result of that work, the Olympic Committee hired him to be one of 13 artists to design commemorative medals for the 1996 summer games. His High Jump design, featuring young black woman, knees bent, was the only commemorative medal for that Olympics to depict a black person.

 

“He was dedicated and sincere and he loved his people. One thing he was very proud of was the painting he did of those black American Revolutionary soldiers.”

“Cal was a humble, very gracious man. He was a sage. He filled me with a lot more knowledge than I could handle.”

 

updated June 18 with family obituary information

 

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