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Papier-mache artist Gemma Taccogna was born in Bari, Italy in 1923. She moved to America with her parents as an infant, where she later became famous for her work in paper mache.
Glamorous Hollywood personalities, including Mary Tyler Moore, commissioned work from her. Some of her most charming pieces were created in the 1960s from her studio in Mexico. She eventually moved back to the States where she spent the remaining decades of her life surrounded by her artwork and those who loved her dearly.
Her bright and colorful paper mache statues were very much of the time, and were soon replicated by other paper mache artists around the world.
How can you tell if a piece was truly created by Gemma Taccogna? Her artwork is almost always signed on the bottom, making it easy to tell one of her pieces from a copy.
In addition to her legacy as an artist, Gemma Taccogna also left a spiritual legacy for her family, real and adopted.
Gemma had struck out on her own into the wide world as a young teen. During this difficult time in her life, she learned to rely on her artwork for survival.
Because of her experience making it on her own in the big world with just her art, Gemma Taccogna is remembered equally as mentor to young people and as an artist.
Her studio became a place for aspiring and troubled young artists to find family, artistic and spiritual guidance.
It doesn’t matter what you create. It’s that you’re living with principle, you’re living with passion, with honor, and you have a visual statement of your bravery.
Today her work continues to be collected and prices for her pieces continue to rise. Celebrities, such as designer Anna Sui, are very open about their love of her work. As a result, Gemma Taccogna’s art tends to show up in modern fashion and art publications.
Do you have any pieces created by the ever-inspiring Gemma Taccogna? If so, post a picture on Instagram and tag/mention me #adifferentdrum and/or @adifferentdrum!
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