Originally an abstract painter with ties to Surrealism, Cicero studied at Hunter College with Robert Motherwell and Hans Hofmann. During the 1950s he exhibited direct automatic drawings and abstractions based on his memories of places. In 1971, after a studio fire destroyed his entire body of work, Cicero was determined to begin anew. He moved from New Jersey into New York City and evolved a style dramatically different from that of his earlier years. Cicero now uses biting wit and figural distortion to create cartoonlike scenes that suggest states of mind or being rather than perceived reality. Although his new work is visually allied with Chicago Imagism of the 1970s and recent Neo-Expressionism, Cicero’s roots as an artist go back to the beat generation and the work of such figures as James Dean and Jack Kerouac.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)