Paulette Tavormina (born 1949 in Rockville Centre, New York) is an American fine-art photographer who lives and works in New York City. Tavormina is best known for her series, Natura Morta, which features photographic imagery inspired by 17th century Dutch, Spanish and Italian Old Master still life painters.
Tavormina's interest in photography grew out of a 1980s request by a New York public relations firm to photograph a visiting celebrity. She then took an introductory class at the International Center of Photography in New York. After moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Tavormina took a class in black and white photography and darkroom technique, and became a commercial photographer, specializing in historical Indian pottery and Navajo jewelry. She also worked as a food stylist, collaborating on six cookbooks, including The Coyote Café Cookbook and The Red Sage Cookbook. She adapted her food styling experience to become a prop and food specialist for Hollywood films including The Astronaut's Wife, where part of her work involved creating elaborate food scenes. While in Santa Fe, Tavormina became fascinated by the work of Sarah McCarty, a Santa Fe-based still life painter and was introduced to the works of 17th century Old Master still-life painters Giovanna Garzoni and Maria Sibylla Merian.
Early in her career, Tavormina spent six years working at Sotheby's auction house in New York, surrounded by fine art. Returning to New York in the mid-2000s, after a period learning Italian and finding her ancestral roots in Sicily, Tavormina joined Sotheby's again, photographing works of art for their auction catalogues. Tavormina began experimenting and creating photographic images reminiscent of the still life art of Dutch, Italian and Spanish painters of the 17th century, including Francesco de Zurbarán, Giovanna Garzoni, Maria Sibylla Merian, and Willem Claesz Heda . By 2009, Tavormina had developed the lighting and composition style that forms the backbone of her Natura Morta series, and the work was shown publicly for the first time in 2009 at Sotheby's. Her first gallery show was the Still Seen group exhibition at Robert Klein Gallery in Boston in the fall of 2009. Tavormina's work has since been part of a number of solo and group exhibitions. In addition to her fine-art photography, Tavormina photographs images for cookbooks such as The 1802 Beekman Heirloom Cookbook and The 1802 Beekman Heirloom Dessert Cookbook and other commercial publications such as Sotheby's at Auction, Martha Stewart Weddings, The New York Times, and National Geographic magazine.
A monograph entitled Paulette Tavormina: Seizing Beauty was published in 2016 by The Monacelli Press. This 160-page volume incorporates plates of Tavormina's major works from the period 2008 to 2015 as well as essays by the art and photography scholars Silvia Malaguzzi, Mark Alice Durant and Anke Van Wagenberg-Ter Hoeven.
Awards and grants
In August 2016, Tavormina was selected by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation as a 2016 recipient of a Pollock-Krasner grant.
Solo museum exhibitions
- Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, August 21, 2016 - November 27, 2016 
- Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD, April 23, 2016 - July 10, 2016 
Solo gallery exhibitions
- Seizing Beauty, Colnaghi, London, England, May 23 - June 23, 2017 
- Paulette Tavormina, Beetles + Huxley Gallery, London, England, June 30, 2015 - July 25, 2015 
- Paulette Tavormina: Bogedón, Robert Mann Gallery, New York, February 5 - March 21, 2015 
- Bogedón Series by Paulette Tavormina, March SF, San Francisco, October 23 - December 15, 2014 
- Black & Bloom, A solo exhibition in two parts, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston MA, February 7, 2014 - March 29, 2014 
- Photographs, March SF, San Francisco, March 14 - June 1, 2013 
- Natura Morta, Robert Mann Gallery, New York, January 17 - March 9, 2013 
- Natura Morta, Polka Gallery, Paris, March 15 - May 12, 2012 
- Natura Morta, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, November 12 - December 31, 2010 
Selected group exhibitions
- Still Life – The Pleasure of Stopping Time, Holden Luntz Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, November 12 - December 7, 2016.
- Month of Photography Denver: Playing with Beauty curated by Mark Sink, RedLine, Denver, Colorado, March 14, 2015 - April 23, 2015 
- Summer Photography Show, Stephanie Hoppen Gallery, London, England, July 9, 2014 - August 2, 2014 
- Fragile, Chris Beetles Fine Photographs, London, England, June 11, 2013 - July 7, 2013 
- An Artist's Delight: Revealing the Fantasies of Still Life, Alimentarium Museum, Vevey, Switzerland, May 2, 2013 - April 30, 2014 
- The Photographers 2011, Chris Beetles Fine Photographs, London, United Kingdom, November 2, 2011 - November 26, 2011 
- Natura Morta, Polka Gallery, Paris, July 26 - September 3, 2011 
- Natura Morta, Pobeda Galley, Moscow, Russia, July 2 - September 26, 2011
- Still Life Revisited, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York, June 25, 2011 - September 11, 2011 
- Food for Thought, Robert Mann Gallery, New York, New York, March 31, 2011 - May 14, 2011 
- Naturae Mortae: Master Photographers of the 20th Century, Photographica Fine Art, Lugano, Switzerland, May 6, 2010 - July 24, 2010 
- Through a Painter's Lens, Holden Luntz Gallery, Palm Beach Florida, November 21, 2009 - December 19, 2009 
- Still Seen, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, MA, September 17, 2009 - October 24, 2009,
- The Boston Globe, "The Magic of Objects", November 24, 2010
- Bon Appétit, "Old Master, New Technology: The Still Lifes of Paulette Tavormina", March 18, 2013
- The Morning News, "Natura Morta Paulette Tavormina", March 4, 2013
- Photo Technique Magazine, "Natura Morta", July/August 2012 issue
- Digital Photo Russia, (in Russian), February 2012
- IMDb, Crew
- Sarah McCarty, "Gallery Website"
- Robert Klein Gallery Announcement
- Publisher's Weekly "The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook"
- Sotheby's at Auction, January 2013 issue
- Martha Stewart Weddings: Special Travel Issue, October 2012,
- The New York Times "Against the Grain", April 23, 2014
- National Geographic magazine, "A Moveable Feast", July 2014 issue
- Paulette Tavormina: Seizing Beauty published by The Monacelli Press, 2016, ISBN 9781580934565
- The New York Times '"Vivid Images That Aren't Old Masters - but Look Just Like Them, April 20, 2016
- L'Express, Paris, "Le meilleur de la photo culinare 2010" (in French), November 26, 2010
- Le Républicain Lorraine, "Beau et bon à la fois" (in French), November 28, 2010
- Seizing Beauty: Photographs by Paulette Tavormina Snite Museum of Art, 2016
- Paulette Tavormina: Seizing Beauty Academy Art Museum
- "Seizing Beauty - Colnaghi". seizingbeauty.colnaghi.com. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
- Wall Street International "Paulette Tavormina: Life, Death and the Old Masters" June 2015
- Artdependence Interview by Anna Savitskaya, June 15, 2015
- International Business Times "Paulette Tavormina's Sumptuous Photos", by David Sim, May 14, 2015
- Robert Mann Gallery Announcement
- March SF Announcement
- Robert Klein Gallery Announcement
- ARTnews, Review by Joanne Silver, May 2014 issue
- The New Yorker, "Paulette Tavormina", March 1, 2013
- The New York Times, "A Feast for Eyes", January 16, 2013
- Photography Now "Solo Shows"
- Robert Klein Gallery Press Release. November 12, 2010
- "Still Life -- The Pleasure of Stopping Time" (PDF). Holden Luntz. November 12, 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 12, 2016. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- Month of Photography Denver Festival Website
- L'Oeil de la Photographie The Eye of Photography, March 2015
- Stephanie Hoppen Gallery Web Site
- Chris Beetles Fine Photographs Gallery Web Site
- The Evening Standard Exhibition Review
- Alimentarium Museum Web Site
- Alimentarium Museum Catalogue
- Chris Beetles Fine Photographs Web Site
- Photography Now Web Site
- Everson Museum of Art Web Site
- The New York Times, "An Exhibit Focuses on Food Loved by the Camera", March 29, 2011
- Photographica Fine Art Web Site
- Holden Luntz Gallery Web Site
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