Gregorio Prestopino, Artist

by Paula Bosse

Artist Gregorio Prestopino (1907-1984) grew up in New York City’s Little Italy. He is perhaps best known for his social realism, but his work encompasses many styles and moods. I first became aware of him from his amazing series of works documenting the Green Haven maximum-security prison which appeared in the Sept. 30, 1957 issue of Life magazine (view the seven paintings here). The one that really grabbed my attention is the one depicting the prison’s gates (below) — it has the feel of a Japanese print.

prestopino-gregorio_front-gates-of-green-haven-prison_life-mag_1957Green Haven Prison main entrance, for Life magazine, 1957

prestopino_green-haven-prison_life_grinder-galleryGreen Haven Prison by Gregorio Prestopino, via Timothy W. Grinder Fine Art

Below are a few of my other favorite works by the man friends called “Presto.”

prestopino_the-factory_ca-1935The Factory (ca. 1935), via

prestopino_fortune-magazine_dec-1950Cover art for Fortune magazine, December, 1950

prestopino_victor_anti-war-series_1963Victor (anti-war series), 1963

prestopino_paris-sidewalk-cafe_reporter-mag_062063Cover art for The Reporter magazine, June, 1963

prestopino_memory-II_woodblock_invaluableMemory #2


Sources & Notes

Sources of artwork, when known, noted. Two of these pieces appear to be available for purchase at the time of this writing: the absolutely fantastic exterior view of Green Haven Prison and the stark “Factory” (links below the paintings will take you to pages with additional info).

Life magazine commissioned Prestopino to visit the Green Haven Prison and return with paintings capturing his impressions of the place. (More on the maximum-security prison with “haven” in its name (?) is here.) The full article, “Fortress To Keep Men In,” from the Sept. 30, 1957 edition, can be viewed online, here.

Many, many examples of Prestopino’s art can be found at

The inevitable Wikipedia link is here.

Images are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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