Quickly becoming known as the thinking man's artist, Michael D'Antuono has been called "one of the world's most controversial artists" by the UK's 'American' magazine. However, he wasn't always the socially conscious artist he is known as today.
As an art student in the seventies he studied in New York and Paris. He quickly got work in the advertising industry eventually becoming an art director for the NY ad agency Darcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles. There he created award winning television campaigns, one of which continued to run for 20 years. He also had a successful career as an illustrator for 25 years. His artwork has been featured in such prestigious publications as The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and is proudly displayed in the private collection of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Severe tendonitis left Michael no longer able to continue with his illustration career.
Utilizing skills gleaned from his illustration background, Michael took up oil painting. He started his fine art career creating classically romantic art with a bit of a film noir edge to it. He has shown in galleries in Las Vegas, Aspen, New York and California. Listening to the various cable news channels in his studio, and hearing such dramatically different accounts of events and seeing the effects this had on everyday people, he was inspired to paint "The Truth". The piece is a very controversial painting of President Obama standing in front of the presidential seal in a crucifixion like pose. Originally meant to be displayed as an art installation in New York's Union Square Park on President Obama's 100th day in office, the painting was to be in a mock voting booth for people to view privately and then interviewed to express their own views. D'Antuono's intent was to show by the diverse interpretations of the piece how we view things distorted through our political lens and how dangerously divided we are as a nation. The title of the piece reflects the subjectivity of what we consider to be true and how our perspective is shaped by our political prejudices.
The reaction to the piece was overwhelming. It was the most emailed picture on Yahoo, featured on Glen Beck and other t.v. shows, radio shows, newspapers, magazines, and blogs all around the world. The painting even made it on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, the 4,000 emails Michael received were mostly from the irate Christian Right who misinterpreted the art as blasphemy. Intending the art as a political piece and unprepared for the uproar, Michael pulled the installation from the park. It is a decision he now regrets feeling that it is an artist's first amendment right to express himself and not for others to decide only that which they approve of is to be said.Not wanting his original message to be lost, D'Antuono painted another piece without the religious symbolism appropriately titled "...what I meant was…".
Michael finally had his day in the park this past Independence Day when he had an art installation in New York's Washington Square Park. This time he tackled energy dependence on foreign oil with two oil paintings of the Statue of Liberty (with and without energy independence) inside a patriotically decorated booth. The outside of the booth showcased a picture of the American flag with the word INDEPENDENCE? written across it in dripping oil.
D'Antuono has taken negatives and turned them into positives. Unable to continue in one career he started a new and more rewarding one. Knowing the difficulty illustrators have had historically in achieving status in the fine art world, he has taken advantage of his illustrative skills in his fine art to uniquely chronicle the issues of our time in a way many fine artists could not.