New York artist Marcus Tremonto dazzles the design world with art-inspired masterworks of illumination that challenge traditional light concepts.
Taking light to a high art level, Marcus Tremonto is dazzling the market with works of electroluminescent brilliance, which boldly defy convention.
Marcus Tremonto is the latest star of New York's flourishing creative scene. Since graduating from Chicago's School of the Art Institute, Tremento has
been exploring illumination as an artform. Using electroluminescent materials and cutting edge techniques, he deftly creates brushstrokes of light that take familiar and abstract forms in inventive new directions.
Drawing from his art school education, the artist's work occasionally pays homage to modern icons, which have drawn comparisons to greats such as Marden and Warhol. Double Solo, his most recent project, created for Swarovski's hallowed Crystal Palace, is a beautifully haunting reinterpretation of the traditional Baroque chandelier. Hovering between two plains it transcends from past to future, echoing the spirit of Tremonto's evocative works of art.
Marcus Tremonto's definition of luxury:
Something you think you shouldn't have.
If luxury were...
When you get lost in a moment.
Where you can find something about yourself. Paris is a little like that.
Having someone who really cares about you.
It's not really an object, but there's a light that every once in a while bounces off the buildings in our neighbourhood. It's like a tangerine, it doesn't even look like it exists. That's a luxury because you feel like you're experiencing something.
Why did you choose light as your primary artistic medium?
There's something about light for me that draws me to the process of using it. For me, first of all, it's about when you have an experience. When you go to a restaurant and people ask you, you'll always say "it was the cosiest place" or whatever. You remember those things, such as it being dimly lit, so when you're doing things like that, regardless of the image, something that emits light or has light on it, as a medium how do you respect that process? With my work I'm not trying to create something that you can read a book by, what I'm doing is taking a material that illuminates via a different way, so you instantaneously don't get what you want. Personally that's how I think you have a human experience with something - when you have to decide what you want to do with it.
Your father is also an artist (Roxie Tremonto), were you encouraged to take an artistic route?
He teaches painting, he's an amazing professor, he worked as a clay modeller for the automobile industry when they used to use artists to model and design the cars. I was encouraged to accept it in a way. I could do what I wanted, but for him it wasn't easy to be an artist in the 1940s; and to be a young kid that loved art.... It wasn't really a profession in the eyes of many people, so the question for him was always "How are you going to support your family?" but for me he was like, "Whatever you want to do, do it, but you've got to figure out exactly what you're going to do." It was also interesting for me to know someone who has taught art for a huge part of his life, someone who has a hint of what art school's about.
You initially studied engineering, did you choose the subject as a trajectory toward working with light as an art form?
No. The first thing you do when someone tells you that you're going to be an artist is to say "I'm not going to be an artist, I'm going to do my own thing" so mathematics and physics were parallel to things that I was always interested in. I studied engineering, got a job, but then said to myself "how's my art love going to fit in with this?"
While studying contemporary art you also worked as a 20th Century Decorative Arts' Specialist for Sotheby's in Chicago, and later you became Senior Consulting Specialist in the Design department of Phillips de Pury in New York, how did these experiences affect you as an artist?
I worked at Sotheby's to pay my way through art school. The experience of working in the auction business and being around design actually changed my life. You go into things thinking, oh I'm going to study contemporary art and then you're standing in front of a Dutch old school work and you just think, oh my god it's so beautiful. Things start making sense to you, you can be an artist in just about anything and that really changed me,
Also, I was studying contemporary art, but I was looking at arts and crafts at the auction house, then going into a Bauhaus class and realising that I didn't have to make art and design separate, that in that environment it was ok to be a painter then decide to be a ceramicist. As an artist it was beginning to drive me a little nuts that I was having this affection for objects, so that's how it happened.
How difficult was it not to be influenced by the iconic works that you encountered at these auction houses?
I think that what happens is that you have to decide how to live your life. I am literally the sum of all my experiences, so as an artist you can say that you can remove it, but it's always there so the real challenge for me was that I know what has been said in the past, and I think it's important to know what's been said, so that I can figure out what I personally want to say.
When I started out doing my most recent series, it was really with that conscious element "How do I take those things that are important to me? Things that I recognise? As an artist and as a designer I find something that, to me, is incredible and then make it my own. I did a series called Fantasma, which played on the ghostly images that haunt you as an artist. When those kind of things start edging you along you start to think about how you're going to manipulate it.
You are also an avid book collector, does your passion for tomes ever inform your work?
Absolutely. That's how my Stitch series began. I collect art and design books and I always found it really sad when the stitching on the spine is showing, but then sometimes secretly there is a beautiful stitch in there. That was kind of one of those clicks. I thought maybe I should make something that's a support to something that's always behind the scenes, so that's how I started stitching the wire.
Your latest work, Double Solo, was recently presented as Swarovski's Crystal Palace, what was the concept?
The idea is that as you are dealing with the illusion, to also deal with the medium, but to not make it obvious. I've already done the obvious in some way, so instead of repeating it and showing the whole thing going out, it was really to make you feel the medium, treat it like it was going through a liquid mirror and then all of a sudden stopped.
What are you currently working on?
I'm trying to work on some new aspects with this material (Swarovski crystal) because I love it. I'm getting to the point with the wire where I'm kind of past the tipping point, where I have to be careful. I edit quite a bit. Now I'm exploring panels and what I'm going to do with that, but I haven't really thought about other projects yet.
If you were curator of your own private gallery, what would be your five key art or design pieces?
de Kooning's "Excavation"
Bertone's Lancia "Stratos HF" car
Sottsass's environment for "Design as Postulation" MOMA 1970 New Domestic Landscape exhibition
Dan Flavin's "Monument 1"