Joseph Paul Cassar - Gold Medal Awardee 2019
Professor Joseph Paul Cassar was awarded with the Malta Society of Arts’ 2019 Gold Medal in recognition for his contribution to the arts. The presentation was held at the Concert Hall of the Malta Society of Arts, Palazzo de La Salle, on Thursday 28 November 2019 at 7pm.
A Biographical Outline
Joseph Paul Cassar’s artistic career seems to have originated at a very early age when he used to accompany his father visiting art exhibitions at the Museum of Archaeology. He attended the Government School of Art and studied under Harry Alden and Fr Marius Zerafa. To further his art studies he proceeded to Perugia at the Academia di Belle Arti Pietro Vannucci undergoing visual art courses under well-known Professors Romeo Mancini, Bruno Munari and Bruno Orfei.
Cassar is the holder of an M.A. in Art History and Criticism from Columbia Pacific University of California and a Ph.D. in Art History and Criticism from the University of Malta. Joseph Paul Cassar is currently professor of art in the Department of Art and Graphic Communications of the University of Maryland Global Campus.
Prof. Cassar is a prolific contributor to publishers in Malta, having covered conversations with, among others, Antoine Camilleri, Victor Pasmore and Jean Busuttil Zaleski. His publications are numerous and just to mention a few include Aldo Micallef Grimaud, the Art and Life of George Fenech, Art Nouveau and Malta. He has published several scholarly books and his research in Maltese Modern Art of the twentieth century has become a benchmark study in this field. Most notably are the two volumes entitled: “Pioneers of Modern Art in Malta” (Vol I: 2010 awarded best book prize for research; Vol II: 2019). Other important publications are “Carmelo Mangion: His Life and Works 1905-1997” (2008, also awarded Best Book Prize for Research), “Conversations with 12 Maltese Artists”, (2007), “Antoine Camilleri: His Life and Works 1922- 2005” (2006), “Caesar Attard” (2008), “Philip Chircop: Abstract Expressions” (2010), “The Art and Life of George Fenech 1926-2011” (with Lino Borg, 2012), “The Life and Works of Lewis Wirth 1923- 2010 and Helen Cavarra 1926-1978”, (2014).
Joseph Paul Cassar is a regular visitor to Malta and his several lectures abroad, mainly in the U.S.A., makes our Island renowned in the artistic and cultural fields.
History of the Gold Medal Award
The Malta Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, established just over 160 years ago, was, for at least a century, the islands’ only nationally recognised promoter of the Arts. Palazzo de La Salle served as the meeting place and exhibition space for the Accademia di Belle Arti group founded by Josef Kalleja in 1930. Notably, in the early 1950’s, the Society came to the aid of the newly-formed Modern Art movements and awarded scholarships to some of the great artists of the time, including Giuseppe Calì, Antonio Sciortino and Joseph Briffa.
Throughout the years, the Exhibition Halls of Palazzo de La Salle have been graced with the works of Malta’s great masters including Anton Inglott, Gianni Vella, Vincent Apap, Lazzaro Pisani and Edward Caruana Dingli.
Past recipients of the Gold Medal Award have included such illustrious names as Sir Temi Zammit (1904), Robert Caruana Dingli (1916), Emvin Cremona (1963), Oreste Chircop (1997), Richard England (1984), Joseph Calleja (2007), Harry Alden (2013) and Carmine Lauri (2015) to name but a few.