ANGELO ACCARDI & THE RENAISSANCE PORTRAIT
Revolutionary Artworks in Traditional and Contemporary Art History
One of Contemporary Art’s most accomplished naturalist painters, Angelo Accardi is taking traditional Fine Art and “making it new.” His newest collection of portraits entitled, “Flower’s Daughters” combine iconic contemporary styles and traditional portraiture in gorgeous, colorful artworks.
Born in Sapri, a small town in the south of Italy, artist Angelo Accardi takes us back to his country’s roots with a nod to some of the earliest paintings of women in Western history.
Known for its revolutionary portraiture, the Italian Renaissance reaches back as early as the fifteenth century and spans some of the world’s most renowned artists in art history, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello. Heard of the Mona Lisa? Painted during the Italian Renaissance. The famed period marked the transition between medieval and modern Europe, breaching the gap between what Italian humanists called “the Dark ages” and the “Enlightenment” of the early eighteenth century. Though now considered traditional, artists of the Renaissance were revolutionary in their time, ushering in an age of scientific and philosophic discovery along with artistic invention and creativity. Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt described the three-hundred year chapter in art history as the “rebirth of the individual,” and the expression is not lost on Accardi’s portraits.
Dressed in high collars, the women who make up Accardi’s “Flower’s Daughters,” are overemphasized and somewhat satirical versions of the classic Italian Renaissance portrait of a woman, whose features regularly included high, round forehead, fair skin, red lips, and dark eyes, and among other highly stylized and idealized characteristic, were often dressed in costume. But he doesn’t stop there.
Using the weight of Renaissance portraiture as a canvas for his new works, Accardi compares the individuality, subjectivity, and the political construction of ‘identity’ manifest in Renaissance portraiture with a more contemporary expression of these themes. Contemporary artist and street art icon Keith Haring is famous for his subway graffiti art, whose bold lines, vivid colors, and active figures carry strong messages of life and unity. The whimsical characters climbing the lavish headpieces of his Flower Women are inspired by Haring’s famous cartoons. That Accardi is drawing a comparison between the Renaissance painters and the Renegade artists of the 80s is undeniable, and terrifically interesting. While the traditional painters of the Italian Renaissance may have been revolutionary for their time, they remained in a canon of established painters, unable to create political art the way contemporary artists like Haring could.
Haring, a contemporary revolutionary whose graffiti art made a political statement all over the NYC subways is where Accardi draws his second inspiration for these enchanting portraits. He says, “the radiant boys of Haring, among the voluminous hair of my women represent ideas of freedom and equality that those artists tried to legitimize in those years. He was an artist who lived his life trying to break down the barriers between art and the people, and opened it up to all social classes.”
Besides for Haring, Accardi’s more modern references include the “flower child” icon of the 60s and 70s, where men and women, but especially women, embraced mother nature in their fashion choices, stringing flowers in their hair and wearing billowing floral dresses to symbolize universal themes of peace, acceptance, and love. By combining these themes with the conservative dress of a more traditional portrait, Accardi brings Renaissance portraiture into the twenty-first century, highlighting the changing boundaries of innovation, creativity, personal identity and artistic transformation in stunning and lasting works of art.