Denny Dent - John Lennon Portrait
Oil on paper
72" x 60"
Using three brushes in each hand and energized motion, Denny Dent captured the very essence of a myriad of celebrities he rendered. A portrait of John Lennon was the first one he ever created.
When John Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman, this sparked something deep in Denny Dent. "John Lennon gave me something important in my life. He showed I didn't have to be perfect, that I was human," the artist recalled. Overcome with emotion, he gathered an easel and painting materials and joined a candlelight vigil for the late Beatle. On spot, he created a portrait of young Lennon in front of the bewildered, teary audience, all while shouting out what he felt. His first performance of this kind, it launched him on an artistic crusade that lasted decades.
Over the course of his career, Dent painted a myriad of portraits of Lennon. This work on offer is very rare and thus, highly collectible. With a thoughtful use of negative space and his distinct energetic brushstrokes, the artist executed a powerful portrait in vibrant colors. Lennon is depicted peacefully staring into the distance, encapsulating the late musician’s resonant energy he was known for. As each of his canvases, it has his distinct hand-split signature in its upper corner.
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About Denny Dent
Sometimes referred to as “the only rock and roll painter”, and sometimes as the “kid playing in the mud”, Denny Dent was certainly one of the most famous speed painters in history.
His act called “Two-Fisted Art Attack” was, in fact, a performance involving music, dancing, and painting with both hands, three brushes in each. The skill this inimitable artist showed on each of his speed painting sessions complemented his energy, while the audience was often left mesmerized. Because of the uniqueness of his performance, Dent enjoyed great popularity, while the portraits he painted were sold for rather high prices for speed art.
Denny Dent’s humble origins included his mother, also an artist and his grandfather, an ambidextrous cabinetmaker, who bestowed the initial talent upon him. Although he did not finish school, the artistic drive and the need to express himself were always present and the first time he got a chance to do so is during a 1981 John Lennon vigil. His act proved to be so different from anything else and so interesting, that he started to get calls from all over the country, painting as an opening act for bands and in other occasions. He was brought to spotlight with his legendary performance at Woodstock in 1994, where he painted in front of 300,000 people.
As his popularity grew, so did the range of his subjects, which included renowned musicians such as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix or Tina Turner, NHL and NASCAR sportsmen, and politicians such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, among others.
Born in 1948, Denny Dent lived in Denver, Colorado and died in 2004 of complications related to a heart attack.