Antonelle Art Impressions

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March-April 2000
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 An American Impressionist Speaks to Art Tribune

by Michael LeForce

Deemed the American Renoir, Patrick Antonelle seeks to combine nature with the ingenuity of man in architecture as a perfect harmony in his work. An American original with a refreshingly populist bent, Antonelle is included in the collections of Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Michele Marsh, Ivana Trump, Agnes De Mille,Regis Philbin, Leonard Bernstein, and many other luminaries. His work is included in the corporate collections of Panasonic, Apple Computers, The Meredith Corporation, Better Homes and Gardens, Delta Airlines, Statewide Title Corp., Patek Phillipe, Geneva, and many other national and international companies.

Q: What inspires you?
A: Life is my inspiration, and I create pictures that emulate God's creation, which is life. In my paintings, I combine nature with the ingenuity of man in architecture as a perfect harmony. I feel that man, architecture and nature coexist in a single unified whole, and that's what I try to depict. I also paint the different seasons because each season has its own distinct beauty in nature. When I'm painting New York scenes or city scenes, I'm usually painting the landmarks in a nostalgic way. I get most of my material through the New York Historical Society and The Museum of the City of New York, which work well with me, and I'm inspired by old New York photos, mostly from the last century. I admire the French. Impressionists. There is also an Asian or Chinese influence in my work, I'm told. The Asian theory emphasizes the smallness of man against the enormity of nature, so when I'm painting figures in the landscape, they're usually small and diminutive. I combine impressionism with pointillism, and my paintings exude a feeling of calmness and peace. I try to bring beauty into the world of art, which I feel is seeing a lot of angst and anger right now.

Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
A: Having wanted to be an architect at one time, I get my ideas from New York Landmarks. I like the architecture of 100 years ago better than modern architecture with its sleek lines. I think buildings from a century ago have more artistic quality, and I'm happy to see that a lot of them, like the Dakota and the Plaza Hotel, are being upgraded and maintained and appreciated today. So what I do is paint the old architecture of New York in a nostalgic way with nature, in different seasons.

Q: How did you begin painting?
A: Quite by accident. When I went to art school, it was more for commercial art, illustration, and advertising. But then I bought a paint set about 20 years ago, and I had an immediate likeness to it. I feel my best pieces are about nature, and my abilities are a gift, something that comes natural to me. I've developed my own impressionistic, pointillist technique over the years. I used to be more of a realist painter when I started out, but impressionism is what I've found I prefer.

Q: What do you think of Thomas Kinkade and his work?
A: I have a great deal of respect for him. To be alive and to have your work going for half a million dollars is quite an accomplishment in this day and age, especially when painting traditional, representational paintings. Many of the galleries that I have had experience with will sell an abstract painting that nobody understands for that kind of money. So I'm happy to see that people are appreciating his work. His success demonstrates that he is also an excellent marketer.

Q: What do you think has made him such a successful marketer?
A: The amount of funds that he's been able to invest in advertising.

Q: Kinkade is also doing plates and other commercial items, as well as reproductions. Is this something you ever plan to do?
A: I do have limited editions of ten copies of my work, and may go beyond that. I have been told not to go into plates and glasses and shopping bags, because that would make me more commercial than I want to be; and that would detract from the fact that I am a fine artist. However, Thomas Kinkade, I think, is a contradiction to that philosophy because despite his commercialism, his original paintings are still worth a lot of money.

Q: Why do you think impressionism and pretty art like yours and Kinkade's is so popular in America right now?
A: Because people want to calm down. It makes me feel good painting a beautiful, calm scene, and I can only tell you, after having my own gallery for five years and from what galleries who represent me say, it makes them feel good, too. Many people have commented to the galleries that my work is relaxing; it makes them happy. If they have a hard day, they come home and look at my painting and it lowers their blood pressure and their anxieties.

Q: Will you ever market overseas, particularly in Asia?
A: I certainly would. A great deal of my paintings and prints have already been sold to the Asian market.

Q: Would you consider going to Asia and painting their skyscrapers and landmarks?
A: Absolutely.

Q: What are your artistic goals?
A: My goals are to paint more and to do more traveling, and interpret other parts of the world like Paris into what I did here in New York.

Q: Do you do commission work?
A: I welcome that, because if something excites someone else, and they want an interpretation of it in the way I paint, that's a compliment to me.

Q: Are people more interested in collecting art now than they were ten years ago?
A: In the '80s, people went crazy, paying many millions for a Van Gogh. With all the money that was around then, people were looking not for my work or someone similar to me, they wanted the big names. But what I'm finding now is that people are spending money on art, whether it's inexpensive or expensive, on something that they like. It's not so much for what it's going to be worth in 10 years. They buy it because they like it. If it's expensive and they can afford it, they buy it.

Q: How would you describe your work to the corporate collector?
A: That's another area which I've been getting highly involved with. Being based in New York City, among companies that are expanding and having new offices, I spend ten percent of my week going to offices for corporate reasons. Since I paint New York, corporations enjoy my work, for the collections and for decorative purposes.

Q: Some modern art critics today would like to say that art such as what you and Kinkade and others are doing isn't really art. What are your I thoughts on that?
A: I've been to so many openings to see what else is out there that I can tell you that I've seen paintings with high price tags on them which are just canvases painted in solid colors with a dot or with lines, and I have no respect for that. I don't understand it. I'm not talking about people with big names. But a lot of that art is out there, and it's demanding high prices. I think it's sad because I put so much work and heart and soul into a painting, as do other artists that I know, and I wonder how much heart can be in a black canvas with a dot.

Q: Do you plan to do sculptures in the future?
A: I've always wanted to do sculpture. I did stained glass at one time, which I have a great deal of love and respect for. I would do sculptures in a classical, way. However, at this time, I just want to be known for my paintings.

Q: Do you paint your children in Central Park?
A: I paint an image of a child, but I won't do facial portraits anymore. When I was doing portraits of children and people, I found that people, in their own vanities, have a certain way of thinking about the way they look, and when the artist looks at them they may not see them the same way. So I was finding myself changing or having to change something that was already painted, either making the eyes lighter or the skin tone different. So, I'd rather paint something that I enjoy painting.

Q: You do a lot of work for charity. What are some of the things you have been involved in?
A: I strongly believe in supporting children's organizations. I have donated artwork for the Tomorrows Children's Cancer Hospital in Hackensack, New Jersey, the Di Paolo AIDS Foundation, Northern Lights for Pediatric AIDS New York, UNICEF Worldwide, and many more. Due to Mr. Kinkade's inability to attend, I am going to be honored for the Sunrise Children's Hospital benefit at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas on April 14th, 2000.

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* Manhattan Arts Magazine, November 1992       

2002 Antonelle Art Impressions

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