Kurt Wenner Art
Kurt Wenner is an American artist known worldwide for his invention of “3D pavement art”, and for having founded the first street painting festival in the United States, at the Old Mission in Santa Barbara, California.
His interest in ancient art and Renaissance classicism brought him to come in Italy, the cradle of the Art, where he stayed for long 25 years even, and living close to the Pantheon in the heart of Rome. Here he studied the works of the great masters and became particularly interested in the Mannerist period; finding in the monumental scale and sophisticated decoration a direction for his own artistic expression.
For years Wenner traveled extensively in order to experience most of the major masterpieces and monuments throughout Italy and Europe. The artist began to draw Madonna figures (madonnaro) and created chalk paintings on the streets of Rome, and over the years won numerous gold medals at European competitions.
Wenner says: “Because the classical tradition that fascinated me was lost, part of my studies was scholarly. I believe that while the patrimony of great masterpieces from the classical tradition belongs to history, the artistic process that it proposes is eternal. During the Renaissance, the decorative arts were considered the highest form of art with the Sistine Chapel, one of the most famous works of this genre. In addition to paintings, murals, and canvases, the great masters often designed ceramics, tapestries, wood inlay, silverware, and jewelry. Drawings for these works of art exhibit the masters’ great enthusiasm and imagination; artists such as Cellini might spend years on a single sculpted piece. Masterful drawings were essential to direct the work of many of the worlds’ greatest treasures. Unfortunately the ability to create such drawings, and of artisan apprentices and journeymen to interpret them, has been lost for several generations. Because it is now rare for a contemporary artist to be able to design artwork in this manner, all of the arts have undergone a profound change. My years in Italy have given me a special understanding of and appreciation for this important heritage”.
Wenner’s experience with materials and techniques gave him complete flexibility of design. By designing and executing all the details including columns, capitals, moldings and facings let him achieve a full range of artistic expression.
In 1984, he invented an art form all his own that has come to be known as anamorphic or 3D pavement art. A form of perspective known as Anamorphism and that had been used by the great European Masters to give the illusion of soaring architecture and floating figures in their ceiling frescoes. Inspired by this use of perspective, Wenner invented a new geometry to create compositions that appear to rise from or fall into the ground, taking the name of Wenner’s hyperbolic perspective.
During his years abroad, Wenner executed several large permanent works including altarpieces, a family chapel in Puglia, and an entire ceiling (6,000 square feet) for the church of St. George near lake Como. Nearly all of his paintings have been done on commission, for lobbies of corporate high-rises, government buildings, hotels, museums, churches, and private homes.
Over the years Wenner’s work became known throughout the country and in 1991 he was commissioned to create a work of art to honor the visit of Pope John Paul II to the city of Mantua (an original composition for a 15’ x 75’ street painting based on the Last Judgment).
Webber says: “I juxtapose both conventional and optical types of illusion in my work. My perspective technique enables me to bring classicism into the present by creating an optical and geometrical link between a work of art and its contemporary surroundings”.
Back in USA, in addition to teaching, he lectured at corporate events and conducted seminars and workshops for organizations ranging from the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution to Disney Studios, Warner Bros. Studios, Toyota, and General Motors. (Visit his webpage for more)
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