"Natura Morta": A New Take on Old Masters

Look carefully - very carefully. This is not a seventeenth century Old Master still-life, but a vignette meticulously and exquisitely conceived, realized and photographed by Paulette Tavormina.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Paulette - who is as glamorous (think Rita Hayworth) as she is talented - and heard the fascinating story of how all her diverse interests and experiences have beautifully coalesced into her stunning "Natura Morta" series.

One of Paulette's newest works: strawberries were meant to evoke earthly paradise

With an early love of art history and an appreciation for objects (I think you are either a person who connects to "things" and imbues them with emotion and memory - or you're not), Paulette began her career in commercial photography and soon specialized in styling and shooting food for cookbooks. This led to creating food scenes and props for films. (That steak Anthony Hopkins ate in Nixon with bloody juice seeping out is Paulette's handiwork). To complete the circle of photography to food to art, Paulette has spent the past few years capturing the most rare masterpieces in the world with her lens for Sotheby's auctioneers.

Every item in these photographs is hand-selected by Paulette: shells from the beach, the perfect carrots at the market, dead bugs on windowsills (like Wolfgang Peterson who directed The Perfect Storm, another Paulette project, no creatures are killed in the making of her pictures).

Although a few of her works are directly inspired by Old Master greats, such as her Lemons and Peony...


which was inspired by this Francisco de Zurbarán, circa 1633, in the Norton Simon, Pasadena, CA
or the watery colors and composition of this arrangement


which were chosen in homage to the ethereal works of one of the first female still-life painters Giovanna Garzoni who worked with tempera on vellum

A Dish of Broad Beans, c. 1640s

....most of her still-lifes evolve organically and come from her own mind's eye.

The genre of still-life painting flourished in the seventeenth century, and served equally as a record of the fleeting nature of earthly pleasures as well as a depiction of wealth, with costly and exotic fruits and objects testifying to the success and sophistication of its owner. Laden with symbolism, the appearance of figs denoted well-being and prosperity, pears stood in for Venus and love, and so on. To delve deeper, Paulette recommends Nature and Its Symbols by Lucia Impelluso and Stephen Sartarelli. The Magic of Things: Still Painting 1500 - 1800 is a lushly illustrated volume that she also returns to again and again, as are the Four Seasons, a series of paintings by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, her first stop at the Louvre.

Summer by Arcimboldo

Paulette's work is accessibly priced and with her first show opening on September 17 at the Robert Klein Gallery in Boston this fall, this is a good time to start collecting her.

Prints are 8" x 10" and 16" x 20", although larger ones can be commissioned.
Signed and numbered limited edition ink jet prints are available through the Robert Klein Gallery.

To see the entire Natura Morta series, go to Paulette's website: http://www.tavorminaphotography.com/