RIP Carl Nicholas Titolo…With An Appreciation From Richard Lewis

by Chris Murray on April 15, 2019

When comedian and actor, Richard Lewis, contacted me about his book project, Reflections from Hell: Richard Lewis’ Guide on How Not to Live, I did not know I was about to meet a genius visual artist named Carl Titolo. It was my good fortune to edit Lewis and Titolo’s book, Reflections from Hell, and to bring it to publication. When I first went to visit Carl Titolo in his studio in lower Manhattan, I was blown away by his artistry. He created the most stunning paintings of Italian landscapes, and his sketchbooks reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci’s. They were filled with beautiful handwritten observations on life, art, and beauty, along with the most masterful small drawings.

From left to right: Richard Lewis, Chris Murray, powerHouse Managing Editor Will Luckman, and artist Carl Titolo backstage at Caroline’s in 2014. Copyright Carlotta Hester.

Richard Lewis had been a collector of Titolo’s art for over three decades, and in the process of doing so, they became best friends. Lewis asked Titolo to make images to accompany a selection of each of Lewis’ ‘reflections’ that he had been compiling. As Richard Lewis put it in his introduction to the book, “I asked him if he’d be up to take some of my insanity and fill in the reflections with his own extraordinary insanity.”


Fellow Titolo collector and Lewis’ pal, Larry David, gave a foreword for the book and said of Titolo, “Carl is a painter of prodigious gifts and has such an authentic presence that when I’m around him I feel even phonier than I normally do.”

Carl Nicholas Titolo passed away recently. He will be missed.

Here is an appreciation from Richard Lewis about his dear friend, Carl:

I’ve been at the computer for three hours and on my 50th or so draft with the assignment to write briefly how I feel  just losing a best friend, a blood brother and and a genius I could depend on 24/7, I can’t do it. If my bad back didn’t keep home in Carl’s dreaded Hollywood I’d be there talking forever. My only comfort is that Carl and his beloved Angela have known my feelings for decades.

Infinite condolences to the family, friends and students. That said, there isn’t a heavenly light bright enough to shine on Carl’s angelic wife Angela, or a hug tight enough to express how I’ve been awestruck how much she meant to his life on earth.  She was his reason for existing and his art was his fuel for his meaning of existence.

Almost for decades our individual art forms co-mingled unlike any others in our lifetimes. I understood  what his ‘traveling time’ meant as every moment our brains were thinking of either of premises on the stage on my end or painted images on his. Collaborating on a hip book, Reflections from Hell was a joyous time in our friendship.

From the moment I bought “Manhattan Magic” in 1985 I became a patron. My wife and I have easily 60 paintings and images from the master. I once commented that a lot of his work was almost like a combination from the glorious, twisted minds of Max Ernst and Mel Brooks.

The joy I had sending people to his studio, (and I’ll continue to spread the gospel of Titolo), many who also became major patrons like my comedy buddy, Larry David, brought tears to my eyes. I’ll never cease wanting the whole art world to discover the thousands of treasures that Carl created. I’m certain that his ‘diaries” filled with endless tiny figures are right up there with the greatest work in art history.

I love you Carl. I should stop now or it’ll become a one way conversation like the 6 hour raps we had that connected us.

Angela, count on the Lewises always, 24/7.  Carl, your work be on our walls forever and your million hours of philosophy will remain buzzing alive in my head, keeping me company and energized until I see you at the gallery upstairs next to Da Vinci’s.

God Bless You and all of you here honoring my art hero.

Richard Lewis

Reflections from Hell: Richard Lewis’ Guide on How Not to Live with Images by Carl Nicholas Titolo is available through powerHouse Books.

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