P A R K E R a n d P A R K E R A R T
John Torreano is an American artist from New York City. He is currently Clinical Professor of Studio Art at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Torreano is known for utilizing faceted gems in a variety of mediums in order to create “movement oriented perception” in his works. Artist Richard Artschwager described Torreano’s works as “paintings that stand still and make you move.”
John Francis Torreano was born in Flint, Michigan, United States, in 1941. He earned his BFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in 1963. He received his MFA from Ohio State University in 1967. In his career, Torreano visited nearly every major art school in the United States and Canada as an “artist in residence.” Since 1992, he has been Clinical Professor of Studio Art at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. He is currently Director of the MFA in Studio Art Program.
Torreano has worked in a variety of mediums and methods including paint, sculpture, relief, furniture and hand-blown glass. His works have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, and many others. His series of paintings titled “TV Bulge” were featured in the 1969 Whitney Biennial.
Torreano grew up in a large Catholic family and spent much of his youth as an alter boy. Torreano states that the environment of the Catholic Church influenced his art, with his use of jewels serving as a metaphor for vigil lights. Other religious influences appear in his pieces as well. His work in the 1980’s included bejeweled crosses, and in recent years, his paintings have used gems to create space-like constellations, such as Exploding Galaxy (1981) and Star Field in Sagittarius (2003).
Throughout his career, Torreano has investigated the properties of real and fake gemstones in the differing contexts of lighting, placement and materials. In 1972, as an artist in residence at the Art Institute of Chicago, Torreano first began integrating gems into his paintings. He then experimented with jewel-encrusted columns in 1974-1975 and later, intricate pieces, such as a bejeweled mahogany table in 1983.
Torreano theorizes that all art “exists somewhere between a totally abstract creation and a total reproduction of physical things in the world.” He believes that artists are similar to physicists in their use of theoretical models to gain insight into the physical world. He uses the gem to bring together the world of theory and the world of things. Because gems are a geometric form as well as an object of popular culture, his use of fake gems can become real art by standing in the gap between the two. Because of this, Torreano describes his work as “real fake art.” He argues that humans have a role in fabricating and refining gems, just as the artist fabricates a sculpture. Due to this, Torreano’s works can be considered more valuable than real gems because there are fewer of them, and they are created by an individual artist, “making art value the highest value.”
Torreano has exhibited widely throughout the world. To his credit, he has 56 museum exhibitions, 32 solo exhibitions and dozens of group shows.
GRANTS AND AWARDS
2003 ~ The Nancy Graves Foundation Grant for Visual Artists
1991 ~ John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
1989 ~ National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Washington, D.C.
1982 ~ National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Washington, D.C.
1979 ~ Creative Arts for Public Service Program, New York, NY
2007 ~ Drawing by Seeing (Abrams Studio)
2006 ~ American Art Since 1900 (Blanton Museum of Art)
1992 ~ John Torreano: Metaphors and Oxymorons (The Corcoran Gallery
of Art, Washington, D.C.
Gem 11 x 14