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Nicola Filippo was born in Peoria, Illinois. Little is known of his early years; when interviewed about his childhood, Filippo refers to it as eventful and turbulent. Filippo attended Otis College of Art and Design and the California College of the Arts. Upon completing his education, he traveled extensively in Italy, visiting many museums and churches and studying what had been done by earlier artists and seeking to incorporate it in his style.
In the mid 1990s Filippo surfaced as a painter and sculptor of what he refers to as building blocks of his art work today. Much of this early work was destroyed by the artist. A pivotal point in Filippo's art career was when he photographed a collection of collage pieces by the artist Ray Johnson for the 1999 Whitney Museum exhibit of Johnson’s art work New York.
Taking a financial outlook in 2000, Filippo launched a design and import line using Balinese silver, pearls, shell and Javanese scarves under the brand name of Mr. Guy. Represented by Priorities, a Los Angeles showroom, the line was successful until it was discontinued in 2007, which turned Filippo's attention entirely back to fine art.
Filippo's collage pieces began to gain moderate attention; however due to the playful erotic content, the art work remained taboo for main stream galleries. Some of the earliest shows were through the Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles. Though not specifically homo-erotic the free use of genital representation on both his male and female figures was an obstacle many galleries are shied away from.
In 2007, Filippo's work was shown by Sex Art Gallery in Amsterdam, 2010 at Parlor Gallery in Asbury Park, 2012 12 Inches of Sin at the Sin City Gallery in Las Vegas, Nevada, 2014 12 Inches of Sin-Le Salon Des Refuses Du Peche at the Sin City Gallery in Las Vegas, Nevada and 2015 12 Inches of Sin-Le Salon Des Refuses Du Peche at the Sin City Gallery in Las Vegas, Nevada. .
In addition to fine art Nicola Filippo began in 2010 to explore advertising work for firms such as Serino Coyne.
Nicola Filippo has gifted art work to the Tom of Finland Foundation and Palm Springs Museum of Art; his work is also in numerous private collections. Most notable is the Hieghet and Wilson collection of San Francisco.
Early supporters and patrons of Nicola Filippo’s art include his spouse writer and producer Gerald Ayres (m.2013), art historian Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, curator Lisa Lyons and film maker Agnes Varda.
Filippo’s most notable collage elements are nude figures of men and women, generally vintage, with playful text and bits of Americana found or acquired. Multiple layered and strongly colored these small collages radiate color and flow with gesture. The early works consisted of printed transparencies laid over painted cardboard with collage underneath and over. Later works consist entirely of assorted paper.
- Henkel, Dr. Laura (2013). Sin City Gallery's 12 Inches of Sin: So Much Art You Can Barely Fit It All In (Volume 1). Sin City Gallery, an imprint of Dymaxicon. pp. 38-39. ISBN 978-1-937965-17-4.
- Henkel, Dr. Laura (2014). Sin City Gallery's 12 Inches of Sin: So Much Art You Can Barely Fit It All In (Volume 3). Sin City Gallery, an imprint of Dymaxicon. pp. 29-30. ISBN 978-1-937965-20-4.
- Henkel, Dr. Laura (2015). Sin City Gallery's 12 Inches of Sin: So Much Art You Can Barely Fit It All In (Volume 4). Sin City Gallery, an imprint of Dymaxicon. pp. 74-75. ISBN 978-0-9964340-3-4.