Art

Music

TONY BENNETT WAS AN ARTIST

At public school in Astoria, Queens, Bennett’s teachers picked up on his talents, encouraging and helping the young boy find the tools to nurture and grow them.

April 20, 2024

a painting of a man sitting on the floor writing with a pencil .
a watercolor painting of a landscape with a city in the background .
a painting of flowers in a pond in a gold frame .

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As his storied, seven-decade spanning stage career proves beyond doubt, Tony Bennett was the undisputed King of Crooners. However, music was not the only art form in which he excelled. As Bennett’s love of music and incomparable voice revealed themselves in childhood, so did his flair and passion for visual arts. At public school in Astoria, Queens, Bennett’s teachers picked up on his talents, encouraging and helping the young boy find the tools to nurture and grow them.

To Bennett’s family, his commitment to art first revealed itself in the form of sidewalk chalk pieces he’d sketch starting at age five. Like his teachers, they were supportive of his artistic ambitions and thus, from an early age, Bennett would spend his time studying and practicing drawing, painting and sketching along with honing his singing chops.

He began formal art training at the School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan, but dropped out at age sixteen to support his family. Undeterred in his artistic ambitions, Bennett would go on to continue his studies with private studios and teachers throughout the years. As dedicated as they come, he found time to paint every day of his life, frequenting museums and galleries the world over on his travels and tours, sketching views out of hotel room windows, capturing the magic of each place he’d visit through his carefully honed lens.

As he grew older, Bennett dedicated more and more time to the visual arts, his prominence in the field steadily growing as he earned accolades from scholars, critics and fellow artists. The United Nations commissioned work from him on two occasions, three of his originals are part of the permanent collection in the Smithsonian Institution. There have also been countless exhibits in galleries and museums around the world.

Some might wonder whether Bennett’s paintings prove a greater insight into the artist’s worldview than his performances did — whether they were a more personal endeavor — especially since he painted under his original name, Anthony Benedetto. The truth of the matter is that no matter what you call him, Bennett crafted all of his art, of any form, with the same unparalleled honesty, integrity and warmth. His love for life, for people and for the world was what inspired him, whether he was singing, painting or donating his time and efforts for humanitarian causes.

a black and white photo of a man with his hand on his chin

TONY BENNETT

A LIFE WELL-LIVED

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