Born in Trenton, New Jersey, John Paul D’Antonio is considered by some in the art world to be a leading representational artist in America today. His paintings reveal a remarkable eye for the telling detail united with a facility for composition, color, and light. The precision and clarity of his diverse scapes lend immediacy and impact to his paintings while capturing the energy and mystery of his subjects.
D’Antonio’s eye is the product of his schooling — the Hun School of Princeton, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Lehigh University, and the Art Students League of New York. His art and philosophy have been shaped by influences as diverse as Academicism and the Photorealist painters of the 1970s.
Early in his career D’Antonio was exposed to some of the most prominent artists of the modern era, some of whom had a hand in shaping his attitude, point of view, and philosophy on creativity. For example, at the Hun School in 1970 he was introduced to a classmate’s father, Roy Lichtenstein, whose name is synonymous with Pop Art. From Lichtenstein he immediately got a sense that ordinary subjects could be interpreted in an extraordinary way.
At RISD the following year he was exposed to the techniques of the noted graphic designer Richard Merkin, who appears on Peter Blake’s 1967 Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. It was also at RISD that D’Antonio met Louise Nevelson, the pioneer of environmental sculpture in America in the 20th Century, when she visited his classroom to weigh in on instruction. Nevelson left a lasting impression on the young student— that scale could be manipulated to effect an aura of mystery in a work of art— an idea that captivated him and captured the public imagination ever after.
It was also at RISD that D’Antonio came to paint with classmate David Savage, the grandson of Man Ray, the Dadaist creator of Surrealist photography. After seeing a private collection of Man Ray’s camera-less photographs from the 1920s and 1930s, D’Antonio was immediately struck by the master’s lack of concern with all things traditional and the academic notion of craft.
After graduating in 1976 from Lehigh University where he majored in Art History, D’Antonio attended the Art Students League of New York, studying under Xavier Gonzales, who was a leading instructor known as much for his large murals as for mentoring students like Jackson Pollack and Leroy Neiman.
D’Antonio has exhibited widely throughout the United States, and his work can be found in numerous private collections. He has been in several one man and group exhibitions at leading galleries. Currently, he is represented by a number of galleries worldwide.