To many, Tony Bennett is first a foremost a singer. However, since childhood Bennett has harnessed a talent and passion for the fine art, particularly painting and sketching. His latest work is a sketch of fellow songstress and collaborator, Lady Gaga, shown nude, holding a cigarette. The portrait was done as part of a shoot conducted by famous photographer, Annie Leibovitz, for Vanity Fair's January 2012 issue. The sketch, a collector's item by nature, is currently up for grabs on online auction site, Ebay until December 19th, with all proceeds benefitting charity. The portrait was also done shortly after the two singers recorded their duet "Lady Is a Tramp", for Bennett's newest album Duets II.
"I was in Tony's studio and I walked in, and she was like, 'I want you to be naked,' so I took my robe off and layed down and poor Tony was standing there, looking at me, like, 'Oh, this f--king girl.'" explained Gaga, to E! news, on her studio session with Bennett and Leibovitz.
Charcoal being the medium of choice, Bennett's sketched Gaga stark naked but posed considerately with her arm over her bosom, and tactful dark shadows leaving the rest to the imagination. Smoke pouring from the cigarette held in her long-fingernailed hand, Gaga's face reveals a poker-face expression. The no-frills portrait depicts a more understated sensuality from GaGa, which is a far cry from her typical uniform of eccentric, body-baring ensembles.
"Lady Gaga has the mark of true genius in which she makes what is difficult appear effortless," Bennett told E!. "Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Ella Fitzgerald—they all shared that quality and it's what I refer to as the 'It Factor.'"
The work was created with Prismacolor Premier Art vine charcoal sticks on Fabriano Artistico heavyweight watercolor paper, and the measures at 18 inches by 24 inches. Not to mention, is signed by Bennett in the bottom right corner.
As for Bennett's career as an artist, he produces under the title, 'Benedetto' which is his real family name. In 1999, Bennett launched 'Benedetto Arts LLC' based out of New York City, which oversee his artworks commissions, exhibitions, and other promotions. According to the Benedetto Arts website, "The painter is an alter ego to the performer, living out a passion that is personal and introspective."
Proceeds of the auction will be given to a "Duet of Charities" consisting of Bennett's 'Exploring the Arts' and Gaga's 'Born This Way' foundation. 'Exploring the Arts' was founded in 1999 by Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto, to strengthen the role of the arts in public high school education. Also empowering the youth, "Born This Way' launched in 2012 and supports programs which lead youth into a braver new society- where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be - practicing self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, and development.
At the time of press, the going price of piece began at $5, 400 with nearly 6 days to go. According to Good Housekeeping, Bennett's work has been known to sell for up to 80,000 a pop. His Gaga portrait is sure to garner many thousands more than the original asking price, given it features arguably the biggest, and one of the most controversial, pop stars of our time, in the buff.