Monday, May 2, 2016

Beauty and Seduction: New York photographer Paulette Tavormina creates ravishingly beautiful images of fruit, flowers, hidden creatures and memento mori with her new book, ‘Seizing Beauty’ just published by The Monacelli Press

Paulette Tavormina’s inspiration: The formally composed, poetic, and lavish imaginings of sixteenth- and seventeenth- century Dutch and Flemish, Italian and Spanish still life paintings created and dreamed up by great Old Masters like Pieter Claesz, Adriaen Coorte, Georg Flegel, Maria Sibylla Merian, Caravaggio, Jacob van Hulsdonck (at the Getty Museum), and Francisco de Zurburan, Luis Menendez and Giovanna Garzoni.

Noting the resonance of her Italian heritage, Tavormina creates an intense sense of the fullness of seasons, and time passing. The canvases that inspire her and her photography burst with life and flavor and heavenly sensuality.

This week I’m celebrating Paulette Tavormina’s glorious and inspiring new book, ‘Seizing Beauty’ (The Monacelli Press). You'll love my selection of her finest still-life portraits and Old Master paintings that inspire her. The book includes excellent essays by Silvia Malaguzzi, Mark Alice Durant, and Anke Van Wagenberg-Ter Hoeven.

Lemons and Pomegranates, After J.V.H. (2010)

Jacob van Hulsdonck
"Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Pomegranate" c. 1620 – 40
Oil on panel, 16-1⁄2 x 19-1⁄2 in. (41.9 x 49.5 cm)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

Persimmons, After A.C. (2009)

Adriaen Corte
Still Life with Three Medlars and a Butterfly, c. 1696–1705.
Oil on paper, mounted on panel, 10-5⁄8 x 7-7⁄8 in. (27 6 20 cm).
Private collection

Paulette’s book covers allegorical moments, as well as botanicals, natura morta, vanitas imagery, and the Spanish tradition of Bodegon paintings (fruit, vegetables and taverna-like props).

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

Flowers and Fish III, After G.V.S. (2012)

Flowers and Butterfly, After G.V.S (2012)

Peaches and Morning Glories, After G.G. (2010)

Fruit and Roses, After I.S. (2010)

Blackberries and Butterfly, After A.C. (2015)

“The essence of these still-life paintings lingers with me as I create my photographs. I hope that years from now someone will stand in front of one of my photographs and be emotionally touched by them, as I have been by works created many centuries ago.” — Paulette Tavormina, 2016

Lemons and Peony, After F.D.Z. (2009)
Figs, After G.F. (2009)

The sensual and allusive and pensive artistry Paulette Tavormina honors and exults the fruits and flowers of everyday life.

And, just like the Old Masters (which included many women painters) there are always secret signs (a caterpillar, a moth, a skull, a fading flower, a brief-lived dragonfly, a cracked glass, a hourglass, dive, playing cards) that suggest inevitable passing and fading of this beauty and the evanescence of life.

Sour Cherries, After G.G. (2011)

Vanitas V Journeys, After D.B. (2015)

“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

Peonies (2009)
Peaches and Hydrangeas, After G.G. (2015)    

“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

Basket of Fruit, After M.M.D.C (2011)

Blueberries and Apricots, After G.G. (2013)

About Paulette Tavormina

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.

She highlights the fruit, leaves, rare weeds and flowers as well as oysters (a favorite Dutch detail) and lemon peels, in her the lavish table settings.

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

Lemons and Prickly Pears (2013)

Giovanna Garzoni
"Still Life with Bowl of Citrons"
Late 1640s
Tempera on vellum
27.6 × 35.6 cm (10 7/8 × 14 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

Tavormina’s photographs are in museums, and in corporate and private collections and they 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. 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.

Cardoon and Radishes, After J.S.C. (2010)

Paulette Tavormina Photography

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

Rizzoli Book Signing
: Robert Mann Gallery and The Monacelli Press will host a one-night exhibition, celebration and book signing for the newly published book Paulette Tavormina: Seizing Beauty at the beautiful new Rizzoli Bookstore on May 11 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Photo London
: Robert Klein Gallery will be exhibiting work at Photo London, which will be held at Somerset House, London May 19–22, 2016

Paulette Tavormina Seizing Beauty book and print set are available for purchase.

MARCH, 3075 Sacramento Street (near Baker), San Francisco.

Plums and Chinese Walnuts, After G.G. (2013)   


Paulette Tavormina Photography

The Monicelli Press


Victoria said...

Giovanna Garzoni has been one of my favorite painters for many years. Her beautiful miniature paintings are truly magical. Ms.Tavormina has "replicated" or, more accurately, reimagined Garzoni's work and others lusciously. If my children are wondering what to get me for Mother's Day, her book is it. Thank you for making me aware of her work.

Rose Olson said...

Thank you, thank you, for bring this incredible artist to our attention. True meaning of the word exquisite.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Rose and Victoria-

I'm so happy you love this post.
Paulette has such great talent--and I love the delicacy and refinement of her work.
Yes, it is so interesting to see her inspirations…and they can take you off into a 17th and 16th century world of art, too.
Stay connected--I have some wonderful stories coming up.
Oh..and Rose, I hope this message gets through to your family…yes it would make a glorious gift, so lovely.