Enzo RussoItaly, B.1936
Enzo Russo was born and raised in Florence, Italy. His work as an artist and teacher has influenced a generation of emerging artists in Fairfield County, Connecticut, as well as artists all over the world.
Enzo and his identical twin brother, Germano, attended the School of Fine Arts at the University of Florence (Italy), with its traditional formal training. They were admitted two years before the mandatory age of eighteen, after being granted a special dispensation from the Italian Ministry of Education. The art school was founded by Michelangelo in the city that was the birthplace of the Renaissance and home of many of the history's greatest artists and art works. After graduating cum laude Enzo went on to earn a Master's degree in Mural Art.
As a student in Florence, Enzo was fortunate to have three extraordinary teachers. The first, Ottone Rosai, one of the major Italian artists of that time, had a strong influence in his formation as an artist. Enzo says, ''I learned much from him about balancing the strict rules of academic learning with the search for my own direction.'' The second teacher, Gioavanni Colacicchi, was a living encyclopedia of technical knowledge. His insatiable thirst for learning inpired Enzo's attitude for the intellectual aspect of art. The third teacher, Giorgio de Chirico, the father of surrealism, Enzo considers to be one of the two greatest masters of the 20th Century, the other being Balthus. De Chirico was a man of formidable intellect and outstanding intuitions, who's ''unique vision strongly influenced my early work and lighted my way through the perplexing maze of modern art,'' Enzo recalls. The two men established a long and close friendship.
Enzo was the first European artist to be awarded a grant from the Commonwealth Fund for the Arts. With the grant Enzo made a tour critically assessing the curriculum and quality of art schools in the United States. After his research was completed, Enzo stayed on in the US working as a professional artist. Later his brother Germano joined him here also working as a professional artist.
In 1968, with the sponsorship of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian Institution and by the Pulitzer prize art historian Oliver Larking, Enzo received ''distinguished foreigner status'' and was accorded American citizenship.
Enzo's early work shows a distinctive fascination with the lure and world of dreams, a period in which he began to discover his instinctive affinities with the premise of modern surrealism and of metaphysical painting. Similar to de Chirico, his mentor, Enzo maintains that throughout history the greatest portraits are intrinsically surreal, in that they stand between the represented illusion of the physical reality and the intangible factors of the subject's persona.
In this respect, he believes that the visual arts' greatest masterpieces are, most of the time, simply portraits. Except when it comes to the representation of the Royalties, he insists, portraiture is inevitably more honest, true to life, free of pomposity and melodrama than we see in the compositions of small and great masters. Russo believes portraiture is also wealthier in acute observations of life and reality.
Through decades of work, Russo has developed a highly personal method for discerning hidden clues leading to the subject's true persona. He generally devotes a full session to the art of conversation, in which a number of specific questions are interjected randomly, all aimed at revealing intimate, less visible details of the subject's psychological profile. The vast size of his portraits serves to reveal those intimate details. Russo explains, ''Such a magnification process amounts to a powerful light reaching those unique aspects. The human face is nature's most complex and awesome architecture. Penetrating its intricate details helps us understand its glorious engineering''.
Enzo Russo has taught in Florence; at Finch College, NYC; University of Colorado; Rosewood Arts Centre, Kettering, Ohio; and now at the Studio School of the Greenwich Art Society, Greenwich, Connecticut.
It should be noted that Enzo Russo's twin brother, Germano Russo, recently deceased, was also a fine artist. Both brothers carried on an important career in the art world throughout the U.S.
Prizes and Awards:
The National Quadrienna of Rome, Italy (at 18 years of age).The International Biennale of Venice, (special prize of the President of the Republic to an artist under 21 years of age).
The Diomira Drawing prize, Civic Museum of Milan, Italy.
The Michetti Prize, Civitavecchia, Italy.
''Premio del Fiorino'' (National Panoramic, Exhibition).
''Premio del Fiorino (National Panoramic Exhibition'').
Purchase Prize by Marzotto collection.
First prize from The National Academy of the Art of Drawing (co-awarded with Germano Russo, twin brother of Enzo Russo).
The Salzburg Seminar in American Art Fellowship (co-awarded with Germano Russo).
Life Fellow member of the Commonwealth Fund Foundation, in New York.
The Commonwealth Fund Fellowship Grant, after sponsorship by Pulitzer Prize Art Historian Oliver Larkin (a by invitation only award).
Exhibitions in the U.S.A:
The World House Gallery, New York.
The Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York.
The Smithsonian institution, Collection of Fine Arts.
The Contemporaries, New York.
The Rolly-Michaux Gallery, Boston.