John Torreano by Giovanni Rizzoli

BOMB 75 Spring 2001
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New York Live Arts presents

Marjani Forte
Nov 15-19


The work of John Torreano is inspired by experiences of the American ’60s and ’70s. His early works consist of nudes, in a Pop sort of way. His later work is also somewhat Pop, but unlike the Pop consumerism of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Torreano’s work is informed by the very nature of the American dream. His column paintings, made of wood, paint and acrylic gems are reminiscent of Native American totems. His gems symbolize potential wealth, and more specifically the gems that the first American colonizers used to trade with the indigenous population. Torreano is an artist’s artist, and the decorativeness of his work is something other artists will recognize as not incidental, but clearly intended. His work is decorative in the extreme, with an objective similar to that of Matisse. And like Matisse, it surpasses its formal presentation and becomes magical. In his recent solo show at Feature, his piece French was so delicate, tender, sweet, and elegant, it recalled the Rococo. But Torreano’s work isn’t easy to accept. Either you love it or you don’t grasp it, and in a way that is its grandeur. Many moods are expressed in Torreano’s paintings: from joy to anger, to apathy and emptiness. If Torreano lived for a thousand years, he would continue to do his work with the same alphabet, as it seems he has found the code of the stars.

Torreano 02

John Torreano, Clown, 1997, wood column, acrylic gems, and Krylon, 96 x 12 x 6 inches.

Torreano 03

John Torreano, Pink Column, 1994, wood column, wood balls, acrylic gems, and Krylon, 96 x 12 x 6 inches.

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Originally published in

BOMB 75, Spring 2001

Featuring interviews with Wendy Wasserstein, Wong Kar-Wai, Amos Gitai, Eduardo Galeano, Tobias Schneebaum, Micheal Goldberg, Samuel Mockbee, Andrea Zittel. 

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