Sitting astride the Arno river, like a ruby on a blue ribbon, Firenze (Florence to us English speakers) is one if Italy’s most beautiful cities. (How the British got “Florence” out of “Firenze”, I don’t know.) Firenze, (OK, OK, I’ll call it Florence) is also the official sister city of Philadelphia, here in the U.S., a fact of which I would wager most residents of both cities are unaware.
Florence was the center of the italian Renaissance and has been painted by some of the greatest artists in history, but I was particularly intrigued to see it painted by a contemporary American realist like Joseph Paquet (images above top left and right). These are part of a one-artist show at the Coleman Fine Art gallery in Charleston, South Carolina called “Mostly Florence“, that runs from now to June 2nd, 2007.
Paquet works in a loose, open style, not quite impressionist, but full of lively brushstrokes and rich color. He also has a solid ability to see and use value contrasts, a characteristic of his work that particularly shines in his paintings of Florence, with its wonderful architecture brought into high relief in the warm sun of the Tuscan plains. I was immediately reminded of my own time in Florence, more strongly than I would be by viewing photographs. I particularly enjoy his night scenes, both of intimate street corners and the sweeping vistas looking out over the Duomo from the Piazzalle Michelangelo and other vantage points in the hills “Alta Arno”.
Those same qualities of Paquet’s work also stand out in his painting of “Industrial Landscape” here in the U.S., as well as his more traditional landscapes, which are also highly evocative of time and place. The work on Paquet’s own site is divided into those categories, along with “Interiors and Portraits” and “Seascapes and Marine”, but within the broader classifications of work that is currently available or achived.
Paquet studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and his work includes plein air landscapes from that city as well as from his native Minnesota and from his travels. He also studied with John Osborne, who he credits with enabling him to see beyond the scene before him, particularly when creating a studio work based on sketches painted on location, and utilize his own artistic judgement in creating his compositions.
Paquet’s work has been featured in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine, the Classical Realism Journal, The Artist Magazine and American Artist.