Paulette Tavormina: A Concert of Birds presents new work by the artist that continues on her Flowers, Fish, Birds & Fantasies series. In a selection of exquisite still life photographs that recall painterly perspective reminiscent of 17th century Old Master paintings, Tavormina uses props such as antique bird cages, moss, insects, birds’ nests and leaves from her home in Connecticut, to look at the art historical roots of the genre. The meaning of each object is often multi-layered as this series in particular is autobiographical in nature.
“I’m in love with the old masters, totally fascinated with them,” Tavormina says. “But I create my own personal story within each work. The themes are so universal — love, loss, death — so it is all pretty simple.”
The series began with a single bird, the symbol of the human soul and representing goodness, joy, wisdom and intelligence, locked in a cage. Then there were two birds. Expectations, shows a bird in flight leading the other to freedom, a metaphor for a soul’s journey to the future. Tavormina’s life journey is expressed in these works, but also everyday moments find their way in, such as a glass of bourbon inadvertently placed on the set becomes a Dutch glass. Still, her transcendent work alway stay true to her Old Master influences, Concert of Birds, derives from a genre of paintings dating back to the 17th Century of “Concert of Birds,” that lead the artist to a new chapter.
Paulette Tavormina’s greatest influences have been Francisco de Zurbaran’s mysterious use of dramatic light, Adriaen Coorte’s unique placement of treasured objects and Giovanna Garzoni’s masterful composition and color palette. Tavormina’s photographs speak to her respect for the human condition. Through the magic of everyday objects, the majesty and delicacy of nature, and the world of culinary delight, these photographs are her vision of life in all of its subtle shades of beauty.
Paulette Tavormina, best known for her series “Natura Morta,” was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 2016. Her monograph, Paulette Tavormina: Seizing Beauty was published by The Monacelli Press, 2016 and reviewed by The New York Times and Architectural Digest. Her work has been exhibited internationally and was the winner of the Grand Prix at the 2010 International Culinaire Photography Festival in Paris. Largely self-taught, she has worked as a food stylist in Hollywood, photographed works of art for Sotheby’s and collaborated with The Fabulous Beekman Boys on their three heirloom cookbooks and photographed The Del Posto Cookbook with chef Mark Ladner, published by Hachette. Her photography has been featured in publications including The New York Times, National Geographic, The Boston Globe, L'Express, Martha Stewart Weddings and Photo Technique magazine. Tavormina’s photographs are in museum, corporate and private collections in Paris, London, Moscow, Lugano, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Palm Beach, Boston, Palm Desert and San Francisco. She lives and works in New York City.