Some people are just born with a great destiny. You sense it when you meet them. Maybe you’re even a little envious. If you’re smart, you’ll take care to keep them as friends. Such is the case with the Bronzini family. There’s Marco, the extraordinary painter, and his daughter Emily, a promising young composer who we’re featuring here. Then there’s Rebecca, the actress, who we’ll be featuring later this month. We probably could have kept busy an entire month just featuring Bronzinis. They seem to be born to greatness.
Meeting Marco Bronzini was a great honor for Naples Noteworthy. We felt like we were meeting a celebrity. The French-born painter was well known to us even before being recommended for a feature in our magazine, his distinctive “contemporary classical” style first brought to our attention at the 4th Annual Storyteller’s Creative Arts Conference here in Naples, Florida, where he was featured in 2013. Bronzini will again be featured in the 5th Annual Storyteller’s Creative Conference in Naples, November 6-8.
While extraordinarily gifted and skilled in a range of painting styles, Marco Bronzini has a signature style of his own, using both abstract and sensual lines with vivid colors to create art that is decidedly contemporary while also evocatively, almost fondly, classical.
We met Bronzini at the spacious Marco Bronzini Art School & Studio for an interview, awed nearly as much by the man as by the immense canvases on the walls behind him.
We were especially taken by his series of biblically-inspired works. Every summer, Bronzini chooses a new subject from the bible to paint. Upon first entering his studio, we were greeted by an enormous scene depicting Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, a work, Marco tells us, which is still in progress but which was so mesmerizing we are still thinking of it.
Then there is Bronzini’s Last Supper, his own marvelously abstract version of the famous, oft-painted scene of Christ with the twelve disciples, rich with symbolism, exquisitely subtle color and delightful structure. This 8 x 10 foot oil on canvas, by the way, is for sale, and beyond making an extraordinary addition to any real collection, this acquisition is, in Naples Noteworthy’s opinion, already priceless.
Marco Bronzini’s paintings are found in many private collections worldwide including: The Paul Mellon Collections, the Astor family, the Marks (Marks & Spencer) family, the Guinness and the Bulmer families. His work is also contained in the permanent collections of the Cornell Museum of Fine Arts, Orlando, Florida, and the Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park, Florida.
If you’re a collector of art, or considering starting your own private collection, you won’t go wrong with Marco Bronzini. His works are truly exceptional, and Naples Noteworthy believes they will one day be worth a fortune. But to us, that’s a trivial thing. When we look at a Bronzini, we know we’re looking at something special. This is not just another artist among countless others. There’s something different here, and the more you study his work, the more you know it. It resonates with your spirit.
Dare we use the word great?
We think so, which is why Naples Noteworthy has named Marco Bronzini the Best Painter in Naples.
Ruggishly handsome, engaging, classy, and surprisingly gracious, Bronzini is one of those people who has that mysterious something that simply attracts people to him. When you’re around him, you don’t want to leave, and having been with him, you don’t walk away the same. He paints on the canvas of your soul, without even knowing that he’s doing so.
Apprenticeship Under John Skeaping
Perhaps that’s the reason why Bronzini, at the age of sixteen, after being introduced to British sculptor and Royal Academician John Skeaping (1901-1980), began a three-year residence and apprenticeship in Skeaping’s home in Provence. Skeaping must have been just as captivated by the Beaucaire-born Bronzini as we were. He, at any rate, saw the artist in young Marco, and took him under his wing.
While in residence at Skeaping’s home in Provence, Bronzini studied painting, sculpture (stone carving and clay modeling) and encountered artists such as Henry Moore, a lifelong friend of Skeaping, and Barbara Hepworth, Skeaping’s first wife.
“Skeaping’s house was always full of people,” Bronzini remembered, smiling. “It was a whole new world for me.”
At Skeaping’s house in Provence he met people like the Astors and great art collectors like Paul Mellon; the Astor family and Paul Mellon now both hold Bronzini paintings in their private collections.
There is no question Bronzini was born to be a painter. But being introduced to John Skeaping was a turning point; from then on, Marco knew what he wanted to do with his life. He would be an artist. That was the path he decided on, and he did not depart from it.
“Following your passion may not be the easiest road,” Bronzini remarked, “but it leaves no regrets.”
The Royal Academy of Arts
In part due to his having studied under Skeaping, who was a Royal Academician, Bronzini was accepted with a four-year scholarship to the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1975, where he received instruction by such renowned artists as Peter Greenham, Robert Buhler, Ruskin Spear, and David Hockney.
He remembers his days at the Royal Academy of Arts with great fondness. “It was an amazing place. You almost felt like all the artists who had been there before you were still roaming the halls.”
Marco in Naples
In London, Marco met his wife, Naila, who was also half-American, and from there relocated to the United States. He now lives in Naples with his wife and three children, Mark, Rebecca, and Emily.
Emily, featured below, is an exciting young musician and composer, and her sister Rebecca is an actress who we’ll be featuring later this month.
Marco has a passion for classical music and opera. Among his favorites are Rachmaninoff, particularly his 3rd piano concerto and his 2nd symphony, which Bronzini considers to be the greatest of all symphonies. He also enjoys Mozart, and the operas of Verdi and Puccini. Throw in a little chamber music, some Ravel, Debussy and Shostakovich, and maybe a glass of wine, and Bronzini is a happy man. He often listens to music while he paints, and others have noted that the sublime notes of classical music and opera seem to be somehow exquisitely reflected in the very lines and vivid colors of his paintings.
In 2008 Bronzini was introduced to Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, one of the world’s greatest sopranos, and, much to his delight, the two became friends. Kiri also has a passion and talent for painting, and Marco has considered it a blessing and a pleasure to be able to offer some guidance to her.
Bronzini Answers Naples Noteworthy
“Why do you paint?” we asked.
“Why do I paint? Why does one breathe?” Bronzini answered, laughing. “I am compelled to paint; it is part of my very nature.”
That much should have been obvious. Marco’s studio school was full of paintings–some in progress, some on display, and some mysteriously turned backwards and facing the walls, even hidden behind stacks of chairs. We had the opportunity to visit the studio a number of times, and each time we went, he was working on something different.
“You mentioned in your book, The Ten Commandments of Fine Art, the experience of having an emotional response to great art. Is that how you know you are in the presence of something great?” we asked. “If it can illicit something from you, if it can change you in some way, then it’s great art?”
“Being in the presence of great art has more to do with knowledge than emotion,” Bronzini explained. “What I mean by that is one can be moved by something that is not great art, for whatever reason – an emotion is a very volatile feeling, and it can be triggered by many things. This does not mean that you are being moved by something worthwhile. The appreciation of great art is something that is acquired through study. In order to have a full understanding of what great art is, one has to have full understanding of what makes a piece of art great. Of course, personal taste comes into play, and people will tell you that this painting is better than that painting, but that is something different. All “educated” people will agree that Monet or Van Gogh were great painters – which are their greatest works, that’s a personal point of view, and it’s something you could argue forever, without ever coming to a final answer. We are all different and we are all moved by different things, but like you say and believe that there is a God, there is great art and bad and nondescript art, the blessing is knowing which is which.”
The Marco Bronzini Art School & Studio
Painters in Naples–and soon, from anywhere online–have a tremendous opportunity of learning from Bronzini, who runs his own art school here in Naples, offering half and full-day art classes October through April.
Teaching is one of the things Marco loves. “It’s good for me, too, as it keeps me sharp,” he says.
Starting in early January, online classes will be available as well.
Storyteller’s Creative Arts Conference 2014
Marco Bronzini will be featured again at the Storyteller’s Creative Arts Conference in Naples, November 6-8, along with his daughter, actress Rebecca Bronzini. For more information and to register, visit www.scaconference.com or call 239-250-1822.
You can learn more about Marco Bronzini at his website, marcobronzini.com.
Having grown up with a father like Marco Bronzini, it’s no surprise that Emily Bronzini is something of a work of art herself. Take a look at her newly released video, This’ll Be The Last Song I Write About You, and you’ll see what we mean. The video, produced by EE Cinematics, looks like a classic painting come to life, and Emily herself some breathtaking maiden from days gone by. Not the typical sort of video you see today.
There’s something already distinctive about her style that you wouldn’t expect from a musician so young. But maybe that’s because Bronzini has been composing music since she was 11 years old.
“The movie “Camp Rock” came out in 2008 and the main character was a songwriter and she inspired me to make a book that looked like the one used in the movie and with it, I wrote my first song,” Emily remembers.
She’s been composing music ever since.
Naples Noteworthy asked Emily how supportive her family had been about her music.
“My family has been super, super, super, super crazy supportive. I actually don’t think I used enough “super’s,” she answered. “My dad was the first one who believed in my music. He was the first one that God hit with the idea that “Hey, maybe she can do something with this.” So when I was 14 years old I wrote the first song I released, A Week And A Day Without You. We recorded it in Orlando and my dad and I would take trips up there every so often. It was definitely a lot of work and my dad would never have done that had he not been 100% supportive. Not only did he drive me to Orlando but I also tagged along with him to Europe to visit his parents. And there we filmed the music video to the song. I mean, if that’s not supportive, then I don’t know what is. Now he and my mom and I are giving it all we’ve got, and we definitely have big plans.”
Emily knows, too, that God has a plan for her life. “It’s my job to work as hard as I can at my craft and stay focused and continue to write music and to sing and above all stay humble and be thankful for everything and see just where His plan takes me.”
But since day one she knew God was doing something with her music. “In 6th grade, right before I started writing songs, I couldn’t sing to save my life,” she remembers. “I was probably the worst in choir class and I had accepted it. Then that summer I started to write a little bit… still couldn’t sing though. I was about to turn 12 and I had only been writing for a month and I thought to myself ‘Darn. If only I could sing. Then I could perform my songs and be a billboard for Christ.’ Well you’ll never guess what happened next. I started singing all day every day and before I knew it, I could carry a tune and not make people want to buy ear plugs anymore. It was pretty surreal. Over the years I’ve seen my songs grow and mature and in no way is that me. I know God has blessed me with this gift and because of Him, I’m improving and it’s all just an awesome feeling. To know that God has this perfect plan for my life. My goal, so you know, is to one day sell out Madison Square Garden. I believe one day I will. But whether I do or don’t, I know God has got me on this path for a reason and I’m just excited to see what He’s going to do with my music.”
We’re excited to see what He’s going to do with her music too, which is why Naples Noteworthy has named Emily Bronzini the Best Young Composer in Naples, 2014.