Born in Trenton New Jersey in 1954, John D’Antonio is considered by many in the art world as one of the top ten representational artists in America today. John was schooled at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Arts Student’s League in New York and Lehigh University, Pennsylvania. D’Antonio’s art and philosophy have been shaped by a diverse group of influences, from Impressionism and Academicism to the Photorealist development of the 1970s. It was while residing in Hockessin, Delaware near Wilmington, from 1983-86 that D’Antonio became inspired by the subject matter and techniques of the Brandywine School of landscape- portrait painters, particularly through the influence and guidance of George Weymouth, President of the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford Pennsylvania. This association led Mr. D’Antonio to his decision to interpret traditional landscapes in his unique dramatic, idealized manner.
John D’Antonio’s paintings reveal a remarkable eye for telling detail united to a virtuosic facility with color and light. D’Antonio’s work maintains echoes of late 19th Century American and French landscape painters, while his precision and clarity give the work a contemporary feel. Mr. D’Antonio’s subjects include the pastoral landscapes of his home in Washington’s Crossing, New Jersey, the canals and countryside of Holland, the brilliant light of Taos, New Mexico and sailing on the high seas. Whether amidst a peaceful bucolic American landscape or rounding the Horn through stormy waters, D’Antonio has a rare talent for capturing the essence of his surroundings and making us feel and experience them with startling immediacy.
The artist did not arrive on the contemporary art scene without the impact of some of the most prominent artists in modern time. Early in his career at the Hun School of Princeton (1970), John was introduced to a classmate’s father, Roy Lichtenstein, one of the most widely known pop artists in the world. D’Antonio immediately got a sense of how creativity and interpretation of stereotype subjects could be used in extraordinary ways. Mr. D’Antonio then attended the Rhode Island School of Design, (1971), where as a student, he was exposed to the techniques of noted graphic designer Richard Merkin, shown in the crowd scene in Peter Blake’s design or the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover (1967). At RISD, D’Antonio met with internationally acclaimed sculptor Louise Nevelson, pioneer of environmental sculpture and one of the most important American sculptors of the twentieth century, who visited with him during classroom instruction. She left a lasting impression of how scale could be used to effect of aura of mystery that captured the public imagination for years. It was also at RISD, he painted with colleague David Savage, grandson of Man Ray, internationally acclaimed Cubist, Dadaist, and Surrealist. After seeing a private collection of Man Ray’s work, D’Antonio was immediately struck by the artist’s lack of concern with the traditional and “Craft”. Man Ray is the most significant maker of camera-less photographs in the 1920s and 1930s. D’Antonio graduated from Lehigh University in 1976. He attended the Art Students League where he studied under Xavier Gonzales a leading instructor known for his large mural paintings; as well as mentoring past students and friends, including Jackson Pollack and Leroy Neiman, (1980).
Many of these artists had an impact on D’Antonio’s attitude, point of view, and general philosophy regarding creativity. Yet, it was while residing in Hockessin, Delaware near Wilmington, (1983-86), that D’Antonio was inspired by the subject matter and techniques of the Brandywine School of landscape- portrait painters. These included in particular, N.C. and Andrew Wyeth, and George Weymouth. Unknowingly, D’Antonio had been using Andrew Wyeth’s framer in Chadds Ford, PA who recognized the caliber of John’s art and introduced him to Carolyn Wyeth - Wyeth’s sister who then contacted D’Antonio and recommended that he meet other members of the artist’s family. The influence of Wyeth’s hidden abstract composition within a realistic interpretation of ordinary subjects became an important component to D’Antonio’s approach to composition.