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Black Tie International Magazine
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Paulette Tavormina


Paulette Tavormina, Photo by:  Jared Siskin
Paulette Tavormina, Photo by:  Jared Siskin
Fiori del Giardino, a new exhibition by photographer Paulette Tavormina, explores still life compositions, reflective of European old master paintings, as contemporary photographs. Last Saturday in Chelsea at Winston Wächter Fine Art, Sotheby’s old master paintings specialist David Pollack and photo historian Gail Buckland, joined Paulette the gallerys director, Madeline Cornell for a conversation on Modern Still Life Photography: A Tribute to the Old Masters. These photographs capture "theatrically lit flora, fauna, and foods", said Madeline as she opened the discussion. "Inspired by the Golden Age of still life paintings, Paulette often works against the clock with handpicked flowers and fruit from her garden to immortalize every intricate detail of a perfect moment in time."

David offered, "The continuum of what we call 'old masters' really starts in 1250 - 1280, but the proper genre of independent still life is relatively new and begins around 1600. The entire Italian renaissance had already taken place before artists really started to paint flowers and objects, so it was always considered, even in its own time, a modern invention. What has always made still life paintings so desirable and sought after is their ability to capture reality in an incredible way. These were photographs of their time. The ability for artists to render a piece of cheese or a fire tulip with such exact detail is what has always entranced the viewer. That extends to Paulette's work, which has such technical precision. I see it as a continuum of what has always been a modern and technically driven genre."

Paulette shared her process, how she collects props, creates compositions, and arranges lighting, "It can take days. It takes a lot to gather and then to marry everything together and make sure it's all cohesive"

Gail added, "The great effort and the length of time that goes into taking a photograph. With us all having phones with cameras we lose sight of the real history of photography, which has to do with light and a focus on how light illuminates the world, how light can be captured, and also time. The world doesn't organize itself. A painter starts with an empty canvas and decides what to paint, a photographer starts with the whole world and has to put a frame around it. The world doesn't always cooperate."

Paulette spoke of her still life origins, sharing "I used to visit my dear friend Sarah McCarty, a painter, in Santa Fe New Mexico. She had an English garden with lemons and quince. In her studio I fell in love. From then on everywhere I went, in Europe or America, I would go to museums and seek out still life artwork. What I love about still life is their dramatic lighting, color palette, and unique compositions. I became infatuated."

Guests included Benjamin DollarHan Feng, Sarah Frank, Michele Gerber Klein, Nelsa Gidney, Alicia Lubowski-Jahn, Fritz Michel, Rina Oh, Liz Anne Potamianos, Renee Price, and Barbara Tober.

The conversation is available to stream at del Giardino is on view at Winston Wächter Fine Art until January 6, 2023.

For more information, visit



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