“My paintings are my palette for chaos and order to collide. I take the high art and the low art, which is commonplace, and let them battle it out on the canvas. The contemporary issues confronted in the work provoke a response, both emotional and intellectual, and symbolize the struggle towards birth that our society now faces. We are at the beginning.
Painting, to me, is the great equalizer. I paint for humanity. I call to arms; the eternal spirit of man, the builder, the organizer and the evolutionary spirit that creates civilizations. I am speaking of that common, human thread that the great thinkers of the past continue to teach to us; the common link which triumphs over adversity, poverty and injustice.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Driven to paint, Giovanni DeCunto knew at the young age of seven that he would be an artist-an artist of such strength and talent that the world would know him. All of his life, he has been creating paintingsthemed around individualism and freedom while displaying the greatness of man. This artist’s interests lie with history and redefining historical movements. In his mid-twenties, Giovanni’s art became a part of the permanent collections at the Smithsonian, Harvard University’s Fogg Museum, the MIT Historical Collection, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He came to the attention of the White House curator at the time, Rex Scouten, as well as then President George Bush, and contributed paintings to Barbara Bush for her literacy campaign.
A turbulent childhood, set in the tough streets of Lawrence and resembling a chapter out of Oliver Twist, did not interfere with Giovanni’s ambitions. Living on his own in an abandoned building during his teen years, attending school, and working a full-time, night-shift factory job, Giovanni’s grit and determination enabled him to graduate from high school and pursue his dream of attendingart school. He was first accepted to Vesper George Art School, but soon realized a more sophisticated level of training was needed and was accepted to the Art Institute of Boston. To support himself he worked day and night to produce paintings, which he sold in order to survive. After a year, Giovanni left the Institute and set up his own studio on Boylston Street, marketing his paintings and fine-tuning his techniques. In 1984 he was offered a full four-year scholarship to Boston University’s School of Fine and Applied Arts. After completing BU and turning down Oxford, he accepted an International Fellowship for Renaissance Study at the University of Padua in Italy, a mecca for the Classics masters. He began to receive significant recognition during this time.
By the early 90’s, Giovanni’s robust mode of expression attempted to redefine classical genre by merging impressionism, expressionism and other significant movements. When commissioned by the GOP in 1992 to create a centerpiece entitled “The Spirit of America” for the Republican National Convention, he had already established a relationship with Rex Scouten, Curator of the White House, who introduced him to Very Special Arts in Washington, DC. Giovanni was among six artists chosen for the two-year world tour, “An American Collection.” This tour brought his paintings into permanent collections such as The University of Kentucky, The Reusch Collection in Zurich, Switzerland, and The Monarch Club. In 1997, he exhibited at the EUNO Royal Museum in Japan commensurate with a retrospective of Jackson Pollack and Robert Maplethorpe.
The physical and emotional reaction to Giovanni DeCunto’s work is as powerful as the work itself - vibrant, intense and in all cases, compelling, His paintings are a canvas where chaos and order collide. His style resonates with a unique quality; his discipline is that of a classical painter, yet contemporary elements are clearly evident. He applies paint directly from the tube to the canvas, reversing the traditional methods to create provocative imagery. His collection of paintings depicts individuals and political-historical events that have influenced and contributed to shaping cultures around the world.
A voyeur of the current culture, Giovanni began painting icons in the late 90’s such as Gianni Versace, Michael Jordan, Robert DeNiro, Frank Sinatra, JFK Jr. and others. Prominent collectors continue to procure his work and establish his reputation: Reebok World Headquarters, Children’s Hospital Boston, Scutter, Clark and Stevens and Ropes and Grey are among this discerning group. Giovanni’s work was featured on a two-hour, prime-time “Survivor” CBS special, with the cameras rolling in to capture the artist in his studio where he created the painting “Sweet Victory,” an inspirational piece of the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. The piece was bought by one of the stars of the show and presented to her fiancée in front of millions of viewers. Altitudes Magazine, the exclusive Parisian-based publication, recently printed an interview with Giovanni and is the first time the magazine has highlighted an individual artist. In the article, Herve Chandes, Director of the Cartier Foundation, elegantly articulates his impression of Giovanni DeCunto, the artist:
“His work is stunning, both in its critical dimension towards contemporary society as well as in the aesthetics he develops.”
Giovanni’s paintings have been included in some of the most prestigious art collections in the United States, Europe and Japan. Over the course of his life, this classically trained artist has developed his own incarnation of pop expressionism, exploring the faces and events of modern, global culture.
At the early age of seven, DeCunto displayed remarkable ability to recreate nature, and by the age of twelve he had already exhibited his work. He continued painting throughout his adolescent years, and upon graduating high school received two art scholarships. The first was to study commercial art at the Vesper George School of Art, and the second was to study fine arts at the Art Institute of Boston.
DeCunto began a three-year apprenticeship studying color and design with Napoleon Setti, who is best known for designing the stained glass windows of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. During this decade, Giovanni’s paintings began to receive significant recognition.
In 1983, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology commissioned Giovanni to paint the historical portrait of Dr. Harold Edgerton, a champion in the development of sonar, strobe lighting and high-speed photography. This single painting spurred several exhibitions and permanent collection acquisitions
In 1984, Giovanni was offered a full four-year scholarship to Boston University, where he honed his classical and modern painting techniques and majored in art history. While studying with Jack Wilson (realism), David Aronson (expressionism) and Robert D’Arista (art technique), he was profoundly
Boston University later awarded Giovanni with a unique one-year fellowship to study Renaissance art in Padua, Italy. This inspired his series of paintings entitled, “Memories of Italy,” one of which was purchased by the City of Boston in 1989 and presented to the City of Padua as part of an ongoing cultural exchange program.
In the early part of the decade, Giovanni’s creative appeal was already beginning to widen as he exhibited at locations throughout the country, including several one-man shows.
He was commissioned by the Republican Party in 1992 to create a centerpiece for the Republican National Convention entitled, “The Spirit of America,” which was held at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas for future President George Bush.
Giovanni donated a number of pieces with early implications of social activism, such as his work “Icon Through the Ages,” which he gave to the Metropolitan Community Church of Boston, one of the first Gay and Lesbian Churches at Old West as a response to rising discrimination and attacks on homosexuals, and “Eternal Star,” which he gave to the Rubenovitz Museum at the temple Mishkan Tefila in Newton, Massachusetts to voice his concern for anti-Semitism.
In 1993, Govanni’s work was chosen by U.S. Ambassador Richard Muller to be displayed in the United States Embassy in Hong Kong. Later that year, Giovanni was commissioned to paint historical portraits of the King and Queen of Hawaii.
In 1995, Giovanni was invited to open Gene Mallard’s new gallery in Georgetown, Washington, DC., with an elaborate one-man show. At the same time, the world tour of “An American Collection” was bringing
Also in the mid 90’s, Giovanni joined Ralph Lauren and Norma Kamali as one of the top 100 designers from across the world chosen to create a unique denim jacket with Levi Strauss to benefit AIDS research. The artist’s painting, “Desert Storm,” was also exhibited in Washington, D.C. at the Renaissance Gallery,
In the late 90’s Giovanni’s work hit Japan with such force that noted museums such as the ENUO Museum exhibited his paintings simultaneously with a retrospective of Jackson Pollock and Robert Mapplethorpe. The Prince of Japan and Senator Walter Mondale inaugurated the museum.
In the second millennium Giovanni continues to articulate a strong sense of social consciousness and political awareness in his work. His newest works have garnered acclaim on regional, national and international levels, including a 9/11 mural that thousands viewed in Boston, Massachusetts.
His collectors include celebrities, dignitaries, heads of state, and corporate power-houses. Giovanni painted King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz for his son, Sheik Ahmed, King and Queen Kalākaua of Hawaii for the Queen’s Hospital, and has presented numerous portraitures to celebrities. Some notable examples include: Tony Bennett, Shaquille O’Neal, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Ted Cutler, Lionel Ritchie, and Doc Rivers.
Giovanni was also selected to convey the vision of the largest up-and-coming neighborhood in Boston, the Waterfront. In 2005, he was commissioned by Joe Fallon, of the Fallon Group to concretize the vision that Joe Fallon had of this new neighborhood as a testament to Giovanni’s forward-thinking, visionary style. His work, which debuted at the Institute of Contemporary Art, encompassed three panels spanning 20 feet-Giovanni’s work ushered in a new revitalization of a neighborhood that consciously incorporates art and artists into its very fabric.
Giovanni’s work continues to be recognized by contemporary galleries and was selected for a premier show at DTR Modern galleries in Boston with his paintings hanging alongside masterpieces of Salvador Dalí. DTR Modern focuses on elite contemporary artists with the likes of Chagall, Dalí, Matisse, Miró, Picasso, Basquiat and Warhol. Most recently in New York, Giovanni’s work has also received critical acclaim at the newly opened Grumman Gallery, part of Grumman Studios the largest tv and movie production studio in New York for his show “The Spirit and the Modern.” While back in Boston, his work is been sought after by local government, premier universities, and cutting edge show room/restaurant spaces like Liquid Art House.
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