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Donato Giancola: From Middle Earth to Outer Space and Beyond

November 16 - January 19, 2014


New York artist Donato Giancola balances modern concepts with realism in his paintings to bridge the worlds of contemporary and historical art. The Huntsville Museum of Art recently presented Donato Giancola: From Middle Earth to Outer Space and Beyond November 16, 2013 through January 19, 2014.

From J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings to paintings inspired by Old World masters, the exhibition presented the full range of the artist's magical and highly engaging paintings and drawings. It was organized by the museum as part of its yearlong exhibition series American Beauty: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

"Donato Giancola, who's widely considered the most popular and successful sci-fi/fantasy illustrator working today, is an unusual contemporary artist whose work is deeply rooted in traditional art movements of the past," Peter J. Baldaia, director of Museum Curatorial Affairs, said. "Through his mastery of technique used by Renaissance and Baroque artists, he conveys modern fantasy subjects that have a broad appeal to the public," he added.

The exhibition was divided into four thematic sections: mythological and contemporary realism; science fiction; Tolkien-inspired Middle Earth and fantasy paintings; and astronauts and outer space. Especially for Huntsville and this exhibit, Giancola created a new space-themed painting titled Awakening.

Since beginning his professional career in 1993, Giancola's list of clients has grown to include major book publishers in New York to West Coast concept-design firms. His clients include The United Nations, LucasArts, National Geographic, Scientific American, CNN, DC Comics, Microsoft, The Village Voice, Playboy Magazine, US Postal Service, Wizards of the Coast, Scholastic, Simon&Schuster, Tor Books, Random House, Time/Warner, The SyFy Channel, Milton-Bradley and Hasbro.

Major corporate sponsors for the exhibition were iBERIABANK and Davidson Technologies. Additional support was provided by The Alabama State Council on the Arts, The Huntsville Times and al.com, and The Women's Guild of the Huntsville Museum of Art.



Born in 1967 and raised in Colchester, Vermont, Giancola enrolled in his first formal art class at the age of 20. After three years at Syracuse University and graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting in 1992, he moved to New York City to immerse himself in the art scene.

Giancola spent the early 1990s as studio assistant to the preeminent figure painter Vincent Desiderio. He also spent long days studying in the many great museums of New York, sparking his love and appreciation of classical figurative art.

He continues his training today, visiting museums regularly, learning from and sometimes copying original paintings by Rembrandt or Rubens, attending life drawing sessions with illustrator friends, and constantly challenging himself with each new project.

Giancola has won awards ranging from the Hamilton King Award from the Society of Illustrators to 19 Chesley Awards from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. He's also won three Artist Hugo Awards for outstanding professional work from the World Science Fiction Society, notable awards from the Art Renewal Center, and six silver and three gold medals from the juried annual Spectrum: The Best of Contemporary Fantastic Art.

Please click here to view the introductory wall text panel from the exhibition and here to view the checklist.


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