Tony Bennett

One of the joys of going out hunting – for books in my case – is you just don’t know what (if anything) you are going to find. Yesterday, this turned up:

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Tony Bennett  — in the Studio

Until I picked up this American book I didn’t know singer Tony Bennett was also a talented artist. Artists have often shared creative head space with musicians, going at least as far back as Matisse and his love of jazz. Most of the Rolling Stones and some of Queen met their band mates at art college. Joni Mitchell is one singer who designed her own album covers. I used to have an original Ronnie Wood self-portrait on my office wall, and still have an original Miles Davis sketch in safe storage. Bob Dylan is a prolific painter, with some of his work often on display in my nearest town centre. I suppose it isn’t surprising that these people and others exhibit a talent in two closely related fields, as creative people use one side of the brain, and scientific thinkers the other. I think of myself as a creative, which of course means that I can’t remember which side of the brain is which. If I was an engineer I would probably know.

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Tony Bennett, who died in July, and who famously misplaced one of his vital organs out on the west coast, seemed equally at home in a studio of both kinds, art and recording. He painted mainly landscapes, portraits and still life, but he favoured Impressionism. He tried many styles —  landscapes, portraits, still life in particular, but he favoured Impressionism.

These landscapes from the book appealed to me:


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And this portrait of Frank Sinatra

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Bennett says in the book “I knew very early that somehow I would sing and draw and paint my whole life”. He studied at New York School of Industrial Art where they taught him technique. “You see, they taught you how to express yourself, the rules of expression. You can’t break the rules until you know the rules, and that’s the same in singing or art. Look at Picasso. Picasso’s early paintings aren’t to be believed. They’re classical painting – complete technique. If you don’t know how to do it, you won’t know what to do next.”

At the time of writing, “Tony Bennett in the Studio – a Life of Art and Music” is available directly from us on any of the three platforms via the buttons on this website. Priced at £30 plus postage.