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The Pastels of Cristina Grassi

By Barbara Rose


Cristina Sanpaolesi Grassi’s life has always been full of art – to the point that art is so familiar to her as a means of expression that she has no self consciousness about being direct and unencumbered by theory.  She lived the privileged life of the daughter of a professor of architecture at the University of Pisa, who was also Superintendent of fine arts of the region of Tuscany.  As a child in Florence, she was taken to see the great masterpiece of Renaissance art under her father’s jurisdiction.  They became not distant icons but familiar friends.  She had a natural talent for drawing.  From the time she was a child in Italy, she began drawing and continued to draw what she saw as she grew up.  Indeed, it is a mark of the genuine artist that they do not, as most children do, stop making art as adolescents but continue, even if not in a professional capacity.  Read More

Metaphors – Some Thoughts on Cristina Grassi Sanpaolesi

By Andrea Granchi



I met Cristina Grassi Sanpaolesi in the 1980’s when she was coming to Florence, with her acute visual capacity and innate sense of  research and discovery, and met not only with mutual friends such as the artist Mario Mariotti and the gallery owner Camillo D’Aflitto, but also with the better-known dealers Alberto Moretti and Raul Dominguez of the “Schema” Gallery at the time perhaps the best known international gallery – she sought out what was best and most innovative on the artistic horizon at the time. We crossed paths when she saw some of my work and I was able to appreciate her discerning sense of quality in the fields of design, painting, and contemporary arts in general. Several years later, in 1986, our acquaintance was renewed when I was in New York for the filming of a documentary. Therefore, while our friendship dates back considerably, my extraordinary ‘discovery’ of her work as an artist is much more recent. Indeed, there is a great deal to discover and be surprised with in Cristina’s work – ‘suspended’ as it is between Europe and America, and defined by an almost unique understanding and blending of these two worlds.  Read More

Cristina Grassi - Still Life Pastelist

By Marjorie Shelley



Cristina Sanpaolesi Grassi’s still life pastels are best characterized by their boldness of color, their strong emphatic strokes, and geometric shapes. An artist of visual ideas, not seeking inspiration from the past or encumbered by theory, it is her vigorous draftsmanly technique and sharp chromatic sensitivity  as much as what she represents that is her subject matter. The pastel medium is one of great latitude. Its handling is adaptable to exactingly rendered painterly images as evidenced in the penetrating portraits of the eighteenth century. As artists challenged academic constraints in the nineteenth century they would often use these crayons in a linear manner in brilliant masses of color to deconstruct the diverse objects and themes reflecting changing society. With expressive and subjective states of mind becoming the foremost subject-matter for Symbolists, Post Impressionists, and the many artists they influenced, the color and texture of this powdery material would be exploited for its suggestive potential. Grassi’s compositions capitalize on the versatile nature of pastel to bridge drawing and painting, reality and suggestion. Her distinctly modern aesthetic takes full advantage of the expressive potential of its brilliant color and its direct unblended stroke.  Read More

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