PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949)

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ROSES AND FIGS, 2013 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

ROSES AND FIGS, 2013

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STILL LIFE WITH MELONS AND BASKET, AFTER LM, 2014 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

STILL LIFE WITH MELONS AND BASKET, AFTER LM, 2014

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CABBAGE AND MELON, AFTER JSC, 2010 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

CABBAGE AND MELON, AFTER JSC, 2010

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LEMONS AND PRICKLY PEARS, 2013 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

LEMONS AND PRICKLY PEARS, 2013

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STILL LIFE WITH FIGS AND APRICOTS, AFTER LM, 2014 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

STILL LIFE WITH FIGS AND APRICOTS, AFTER LM, 2014

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PLUMS WITH CHINESE WALNUTS, AFTER GG, 2013 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

PLUMS WITH CHINESE WALNUTS, AFTER GG, 2013

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FLOWERS AND FISH IV, AFTER G.V.S., 2012 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

FLOWERS AND FISH IV, AFTER G.V.S., 2012

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CAULIFLOWER AND PEACHES, AFTER J.S.C., 2010 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

CAULIFLOWER AND PEACHES, AFTER J.S.C., 2010

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YELLOW CHERRIES AND CRAB APPLES, AFTER G.G., 2011 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

YELLOW CHERRIES AND CRAB APPLES, AFTER G.G., 2011

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CORNUCOPIA, 2014 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

CORNUCOPIA, 2014

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LEMONS AND PEONY, AFTER F.D.Z., 2009 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

LEMONS AND PEONY, AFTER F.D.Z., 2009

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BREAD AND DRAGONFLY, AFTER J.V.H., 2011 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

BREAD AND DRAGONFLY, AFTER J.V.H., 2011

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STRAWBERRIES, 2009 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

STRAWBERRIES, 2009

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QUINCE, AFTER GG, 2008 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

QUINCE, AFTER GG, 2008

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WILD RASPBERRIES, AFTER G.G., 2013 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

WILD RASPBERRIES, AFTER G.G., 2013

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CRANBERRY BEANS, AFTER GG, 2009 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

CRANBERRY BEANS, AFTER GG, 2009

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BOTANICAL I: CHERRY BLOSSOMS, 2013 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

BOTANICAL I: CHERRY BLOSSOMS, 2013

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WATERMELON RADISHES, 2009 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

WATERMELON RADISHES, 2009

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FIGS AND MORNING GLORIES, AFTER GG, 2010 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

FIGS AND MORNING GLORIES, AFTER GG, 2010

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BOTANICAL II: RANUNCULUS AND DELPHINIUMS, 2013 by PAULETTE TAVORMINA (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

BOTANICAL II: RANUNCULUS AND DELPHINIUMS, 2013

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Early Years and Photographic Career

Tavormina was born in 1949 in Rockville Centre, New York. In the late 1970s and 80s she worked at Sotheby's, New York. Being surrounded by fine art, Tavormina gained an extensive education in the history of art. Tavormina's interest in photography grew out of taking a black and white photography and darkroom technique class when living in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1990. She was immediately transfixed by the magical appearance of an image on paper from a bath of chemicals. Besides photographing portraits, scenes and objects in black and white, she began working with historic Indian pottery and Navajo jewelry, honing her skills in lighting and technique using a Hasselblad camera and studio lighting.

Tavormina went on to work as a prop specialist for Hollywood motion pictures. She was responsible for research, design and creation of props, working on movies including The Perfect Storm, Nixon, The Astronaut's Wife and The Phantom. Whilst in Santa Fe, Tavormina was introduced to the paintings of two seventeenth-century women: Giovanna Garzoni and Maria Sibylla Merian. She was captivated with the imagery as well as the meaning and intent of painters during this period in art history. Returning to New York in the mid 2000s, she set out to realise the dream she had from years before, of photographing images of natura morta' inspired by seventeenth-century still-life painters. As she has said: "I have long been drawn to the seventeenth century Old Master still life painters Giovanna Garzoni, Francesco de Zurbarán, and Adriaen Coorte. I am particularly fascinated by Zurbarán's mysterious use of dramatic light, Garzoni's masterful compositions and colour palette, and Coorte's unique placement of objects."

Still Lives and Symbolism

Paulette Tavormina is a contemporary still life photographer. Referencing the seventeenth-century Old Masters that brought still life to prominence, Tavormina's photography is a continuation, rather than a recreation, of this artistic tradition. On first glance, Tavormina's photographs look like paintings. But the profusion of detail in the lush vegetation, fruits, flowers and insects that emerges after a longer look shows them to be scenes only producible by a camera. Tavormina sometimes spends an entire week arranging and rearranging a composition until all the elements work in perfect balance. Her tableaux are wrought into tightly bound scenes of natural harmony in which organic forms play off each other's symbolic significance.

Tavormina's symbolism is intensely personal and the success of her work is dependent on its rich, allegorical content. Interweaving iconography gleaned from the Old Masters with her own personal symbolism, the images allude to life cycles of birth, growth, age and death. The butterfly represents fragility and metamorphosis, the lemon is fidelity in love , and the fig is fruitfulness of knowledge. On a wider level, the scenes of plentiful food and flowers relate to the enjoyment, delight and satisfaction of passion and sensuality. Her symbolism relates to universal moments in life in which love, desire, passion and loss overpower everything else. Yet, the beauty and joy embodied in the still lifes is always fleeting as ripeness threatens to turn to decay.

Exhibitions and Awards

Tavormina has exhibited her Natura Morta series in eight solo exhibitions in Paris, New York, San Francisco and Boston. In 2010 she was awarded the Grand Prix at the International Culinaire Photography Festival in Paris for images from Natura Morta. Monacelli Press will publish her first monograph in 2016 and she will have her first solo museum exhibition at the Academy Art Museum in April 2016. Her photographs are in museum collections of the Snite Museum, Norte Dame, Indiana, the Alimentarium Museum, Vevey, Switzerland and the Norton Simon Museum in Palm Beach, Florida. She lives and works in New York City.

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