By now, Tony Bennett’s skill as a painter is about as well-known and renowned as his ability to dip into the Great American Songbook and deliver to music lovers of any age. Signing his work either as his given name of Anthony Benedetto or just Benedetto, the Astoria native has maintained this creative pursuit dating back to his childhood.
Bennett’s love of this artistic discipline has not only led to his sketching and painting every day, but engaging in formal training as an art student at Manhattan’s School of Industrial Arts (now known as the School of Art and Design) when he was younger. The self-proclaimed “museum freak’s” dedication to his craft has found him dropping in on galleries and museums around the world while immersing himself in the work of the great masters.
His skills with a paintbrush have earned him exhibitions in numerous galleries including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Butler Institute of American Art and the National Arts Club. But it would take a push from a fellow music icon for Tony Bennett the singer to push himself as Anthony Benedetto the artist.
“I have been drawing and painting all my life but I have to credit Duke Ellington who encouraged me in later years to take my art more seriously and turn it into a second vocation,” Bennett recalled. “He told me it was better to be creative in more than one field and he was so right. I love the fact that when I am not performing I can stay in a creative zone and paint and then when I am done painting, it’s time to hit the stage again and perform.”
With that in mind, these are Tony Bennett’s five favorite artists:
1. Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (July 15, 1606-Oct. 4, 1669)
[I love Rembrandt], in particular his self portraits.
2. John Singer Sargent (Jan. 12, 1856-April 14, 1925)
“I love all of his work—a true American master who actually inspired many European painters.”
3. Vincent Van Gogh (March 30, 1853-July 29, 1890)
“The emotional content of his work communicates in a way that is exceptional.”
4. Joaquín Sorolla (Feb. 27, 1863-Aug. 10, 1923)
“The quality of light he achieved is astounding.”
5. David Hockney (Born July 9, 1937)
“He is so creative and unexpected in his artwork.”