Monday, June 10, 2013

Seductions of the Senses

The sensual and allusive and pensive artistry of New York-based photographer Paulette Tavormina honors and exults the fruits and flowers of everyday life. Gaze, and be captured.

Paulette’s inspiration: The formality, poetry, and lavish inner life of sixteenth- and seventeenth- century Dutch still life paintings of the great Old Masters. Life, death, beauty, rapture, it’s all there.

With their sense of the fullness of seasons, and time passing, both the canvases that inspire her and her photography burst with life and flavor and heavenly sensuality. 

Paulette finds the most luscious rare and ripe fruits at Manhattan greenmarkets and shapes them into divine decadence of sexy and suggestive erotica of the most elegant kind.

Come and be surprised. I am confident that you will be turned on by their beauty.

Come and Meet Paulette Tavormina: Ponder Her Rare Creativity 

Paulette Tavormina lives and works in New York City where she stalks the city’s many farmers markets searching for the perfectly imperfect flora that characterize her photographs. 

Paulette’s highly detailed and luscious arrangements recall the sumptuous detail of seventeenth century Old Master still life painters, She highlights the fruit, leaves, rare weeds and flowers as well as oysters (a favorite Dutch detail) and lemons peels, in her the lavish table settings.

“Growing up in a Sicilian family, food was the central focus of our gatherings. The lively conversations, preparation, and creation of every feast were as important as the celebration of sitting down together and breaking bread. The legacy of these culinary traditions is emblematic of my life and textures my work.” – Paulette Tavormina 

But look at how she love a little decay…the wilted leaves, the faded flowers, the juicy peaches and plums with bugs and creatures creeping and crawling.

With a painterly perspective reminiscent of Francisco de Zurbaran, Adriaen Coorte and Giovanna Garzoni, Tavormina creates worldly still lifes. 

Tavormina’s photographs are in museum, corporate and private collections and have been exhibited in Paris, London, Moscow, Lugano, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston and Chicago.

Tavormina, who is largely self-taught, currently photographs works of art for Sotheby’s and works as a commercial photographer. Her latest project, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook for the Fabulous Beekman Boys, was a critical success and she is currently photographing the Beekman Boys heirloom dessert cookbook. Previously, Tavormina was a prop and food stylist in Hollywood, her work seen on the screen in films such as Nixon and The Perfect Storm.
“In the 1990s, when I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a close friend introduced me to seventeenth century still life painters, including Giovanna Garzoni and Maria Sibylla Merian. Around the same time, my work as a commercial photographer was beginning to develop. The sensuality of the Old Masters and the technicality of photography appeals to me; in my photographs, I am directly inspired by classic natura morta imagery and the abundance of perfectly imperfect flowers, fruits, and vegetables that I find in the markets.”— Paulette Tavormina 

Where to Find Paulette's Work

All of Paulette’s photography is available through MARCH in San Francisco, which shows her work and represents Paulette superbly in California. 

See the previous feature on MARCH on The Style Saloniste by clicking here.

Paulette's work can also be seen at:

Chris Beetles Fine Photographs
Fragile: Photographing Nature, Beauty and Memories 
3-5 Swallow Street
London, England 
Opens: June 10, 2013 

Pobeda Gallery
Red Square

Moscow, Russia 
Natura Morta: Solo Show 
Opens: November 2013 


Natura Morta, a new photography book by Paulette Tavormina 

A new full-color book featuring Tavormina's photography has been published and has an essay "The Many Lives of Paulette Tavormina's Still Lifes" by art historian, Wayne Andersen. The 40-page book measures 12" x 12" and contains 26 of her fine art images. This book is a limited, signed edition of 200 and can be purchased at the Robert Mann Gallery and the Robert Klein Gallery

All images here are by Paulette Tavormina, and used with specific permission. Thank you, Paulette. 


Blue said...

I hate to admit it but I'd never heard of her – quite where I've been, I'm not sure, but I know that until now I have missed out on a lot!

This is the most wonderful imagery and for one who finds the Dutch Golden Age still lifes some of the most beautiful of European art, these are very moving.

It's personal preference, of course, but the two with morning glories and the one with the blue butterfly glowing in the background are my absolute favorites.

Thank you for this.

The-Countrypolitan said...

Her use of unexpected elements gives her eye for composition and beauty an edginess that takes her creations to a whole different level...

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Blue-

Yes...Paulette has been rather unknown. It's surprising because her work is accomplished. Perhaps it is because she is self-taught and does not spring from the world of photography or art and design. I love the abstraction of her work--and that each concept is so witty and fresh. There's a bit of goes over the edge...that keeps it from being sweet to saccharine or too posed. Thanks for your swift comment. LOVE YOUR BLOG

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Yes...i agree. There is danger lurking there...bugs and beetles...and the compositions are often a little 'off'...

I love also that she starts afresh with each one.

It's a little mundane to note--but please take a closer and second look at the beauty of her fruit and flowers. Have you ever looked through lemons at the market, or apples or try to find a few perfect ones? Here are dozens and dozens of's impressive...though in the end it is really her artistry and taste that bring it all together so movingly.

best and thanks DIANE

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

I adore these pieces. Each one is so beautiful that I am imaginarily deciding which wall to put them all in! I see that she is showing in London so I might go and pop in to have a look! Thanks as always for introducing something new.

peggy braswell said...

I am always excited when I get an e-mail from your blog + you never let me down. These photos are just beautiful.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

My Dear Friend in London--yes, she is in London, and that will make a wonderful discovery for you. These photos will look fantastic in London.
Let me know what you think! DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Always a pleasure to hear from you...and stay tuned. I have some great stories coming up.


Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

i received a lovely message and a very insightful one--from my lovely friend FRANCES SCHULTZ in New York...and she got it totally right...Paulette's work transcends the material...with its sense of time passing, it's fading leaves, its bugs and danger...and sense of death, even. THANKS FRANCES.

Dear Wonderful Diane,

Am positively transfixed by Paulina Tavormina's work and shall seek it out. The magic is in the choice of subject matter and its composition, combined of course with her technical virtuosity. And I totally agree with Countrypolitan about the edge and with you about the ever so subtle danger lurking makes the work slightly subversive and therefore all th emore appealing. You have, as you often do, made my day. Thank you thank you.

Frances -

Tricia Rose Rough Linen said...

Heading off to March!

Susan C Shea said...

Thanks so much for bringing this photographer and her gorgeous work to my attention. I live in the SF area so I can see it in the gallery. Luscious stuff!

MJH DesignArts said...

Spanish and Dutch 17th c. still life paintings are one of my passions--this still life photography is their equal. Stunning colors, lighting and depth.
Thank you.

Windlost said...

Hi Diane, what a wonderful introduction to this brilliant artist. I just adore her photos - how inventive and how luscious indeed. She's a master stylist too, isn't she? I feel a little bad for those gold fish. haha. Thanks for bringing her work to me. You always find the most interesting people to feature here. Hope you are well! xo Terri

Paulette Tavormina said...

Dear all,

Thank you for your insightful, beautiful comments on my work...I so appreciate reading them. Just to let you know, those goldfish are happily swimming in water again!

All my best,


Parisbreakfasts said...

Utterly exquisite!
So hard to believe these are photographs and not paintings..Reminds me of a terrific Nature Morte exhibit in Florence about 10 years ago that has never been topped.
Simply Brilliant