Tony Bennett, American (1926 - )

Tony Bennett

Anthony Dominick Benedetto (born August 3, 1926), better known as Tony Bennett, is an Italian-American singer of popular music, standards, show tunes, and jazz. Bennett is also a serious and accomplished painter, having created works—under the name Anthony Benedetto—that are on permanent public display in several institutions. He is the founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York City.

Raised in New York City, Bennett began singing at an early age. He fought in the final stages of World War II as an infantryman with the U.S. Army in the European Theatre. Afterwards, he developed his singing technique, signed with Columbia Records, and had his first number one popular song with "Because of You" in 1951. Several top hits such as "Rags to Riches" followed in the early 1950s. Bennett then further refined his approach to encompass jazz singing. He reached an artistic peak in the late 1950s with albums such as The Beat of My Heart and Basie Swings, Bennett Sings. In 1962, Bennett recorded his signature song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". His career and his personal life then suffered an extended downturn during the height of the rock music era.

Bennett staged a remarkable comeback in the late 1980s and 1990s, putting out gold record albums again and expanding his audience to the MTV Generation while keeping his musical style intact. He remains a popular and critically praised recording artist and concert performer in the 2010s. Bennett has won 17 Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented in 2001) and two Emmy Awards, and has been named an NEA Jazz Master and a Kennedy Center Honoree. He has sold over 50 million records worldwide.

Whether he is performing as Tony Bennett or painting as Anthony Benedetto, he offers to the recipient of his artistry, a bridge to his personal values and views of the world. He puts his emotions into his work and with that creates a strong connection that is the necessary result of any successful artistic endeavor.

Tony Bennett is an artist. He is best known as a revered performer, the recipient of accolades by his peers and honors by his profession. Tony Bennett is also a visual artist, painting under his family name of Benedetto. The painter is an alter ego to the performer, living out a passion that is personal and introspective. Ever since Anthony Benedetto, at the age of five, began drawing chalk pictures on the sidewalks of his hometown in Astoria, Queens he has had a commitment to art that has flourished. With his standing over five decades as one of the premier entertainers in the world, he finds time to paint every day, sketching the view from the windows of his hotel suite or out in the countrysides to which he travels. The United Nations has commissioned his artwork on two occasions including their 50th Anniversary ( "Peace", "Brotherhood"(purchased by Oprah Winfrey for her personal collection)). Bennett's painting honoring good friend David Hockney, "Homage to Hockney," is on permanent display at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio and his original oil painting, "Boy on Sailboat, Sydney Bay," is part of the permanent collection at the prestigious National Arts Club in Gramercy Park in Manhattan. Bennett was recently commissioned to be the official artist of the 2001 Kentucky Derby and created two original watercolors for this historic racing event. ( "Kickin' Up Dirt 1", "Kickin' Up Dirt 2 ")

Tony Bennett began formal training as an art student at the School of Industrial Arts (now known as the School of Art and Design) in Manhattan and continued his studies with private studios and teachers throughout the years. A self-proclaimed "museum freak," he visits museums and galleries all over the world, especially during hisextensive concert tours. As an artist of both worldly and familiar subjects, Tony Bennett has experimented with a wide range of subjects, has studied the intricacies of various styles, and has learned from the great masters. His body of work reflects an awareness of the history of art and the artist's continuing passion for enjoying and creating that which is universally recognized as beautiful. Common to all his work, be it the oils, watercolors or sketches, is his desire to communicate. His work as a painter has been featured in several art publications including a cover story in ART AND ANTIQUES, ARTNEWS, INFORMART, and THE ARTIST'S MAGAZINE, as well as an upcoming issue of INTERNATIONAL ARTIST magazine. Among the many owners of original Benedettos' around the world are the late Cary Grant, Carol Burnett, Whoopie Goldberg, the late Frank Sinatra, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Mickey Rooney, Katie Couric and contemporary artist Robert Rauschenberg.

Seven of Bennett's paintings have been published as museum-quality limited edition, fine-art original lithographs. The first four of the collection, "South of France," "Greek Port," "Sunday in Central Park" and "Monet's Garden" are sold out and three titles, "Wolf Trap," "Lovers in Monet's Gardens," and "Golden Pavilion" are currently available. Most recently, Benedetto Arts has presented Tony's first giclée, "Gongola, Venice" and will be producing additional giclées from his Italian series of paintings in the near future. With the publication of a beautifully-bound book of his paintings, "TONY BENNETT: WHAT MY HEART HAS SEEN," by Rizzoli International in 1996, a lifelong dream has been realized.

--Anthony Benedetto

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