Jack Vettriano

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Jack Vettriano (Scottish, b. 1952) is like a character out of Horatio Alger. Born to working class parents, he became a coal miner in his teens. At 21, he received a gift of watercolors and for the next 18 years quietly painted in private for pleasure. At 35, he had his first gallery showing, and his success was immediate. Jack Vettriano is now the most successful painter in Scottish history, and prints of his paintings now outsell Dali, Monet and Van Gogh the world over.

Critical success, however, continues to elude him. Seeming to believe that if it's popular it must therefore be trashy, national galleries in England and Scotland refuse to exhibit his works. But that doesn't seem to deter a growing fan base all over the world. And it's not only the commoners that have embraced Jack Vettriano. His works hang in private collections owned by such famous folks as actors Jack Nicholson and Robby Coltrane, lyricist Tim Rice, and even Queen Elizabeth. At his very first showing in New York in 1999, all 20 paintings sold within the first hour.

Jack Vettriano: Sunshine and Shadow

Vettriano's style is both nostalgic and modern. The colors and composition are highly evocative of Edward Hopper and other mid-century American and English artists. His work falls into two styles. The first seems cinematic, and depicts scenes reminiscent of 1950s Hollywood. There is a sense that you're coming upon a "moment", and any second something glamorous will take place.

The darker pieces represent a more shadowy world of sexual longing. Vettriano is unafraid of erotic imagery, and believes that sexuality is a much more powerful force than his contemporaries give it credit. Much of this work looks at the darker side of relationships, exploring compromises, betrayals, disappointments, and tainted desires.


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