In Memoriam: Professor Gian Berto Vanni

Updated in 2023 to include material supplied by Ruggero Vanni

Gian Berto Vanni was born in Rome in 1927.   He received his art education at the University of Rome’s School of Art and Architecture in the 1940s. Gian Vanni continued his studies in 1949 in Amsterdam at the atelier of the De Stijl member Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart.  In 1952, he was chosen by Josef Albers to study at Yale, under the Fullbright program.  In 1979 he moved to New York where he held an open studio twice a year for his collectors. From 1984 to 2014, he taught Color Interaction and Painting Techniques at The Cooper Union School for the Advancement of Science and Art.  He traveled extensively  through Europe,  Central America, Asia and Africa.  His works have been shown in galleries in the United States, Europe and Japan.

Gian Berto Vanni’s paintings bridge the creative languages of modern and contemporary art. A deep connoisseur of all painting techniques, he combined precise miniature-like drawings with raw textures, and unconstrained paint flows in his work. After studying with Italian Futurist philosopher and painter Alberto Bragaglia in Rome, Italy, Vanni continued his artistic formation in Amsterdam with Neo-Plasticist Freidrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, and finally under the guidance of Joseph Albers, with whom he studied at Yale University, in New Haven. Their teaching will give Vanni the funding conceptual and visual parameters of his creative grammar, based on the contradiction of elements, the importance of abstraction, and the contrast between texture and color. In Vanni’s imagery, figurative fragments, geometrical shapes, and biomorphic forms coexist on textured and smooth surfaces defined by both bright and muted colors. Vanni wrote, “Painting is a tool to understand nature beneath appearances, disregarding the scientist’s eye and using the poet’s, in search of those mysterious rules that conduct her marvelous harmonies.”

He passed away during September 2017.

Alumni memories:

Joseph Weinzette A’89 — Kind and generous man. Shared his remarkable depth of knowledge with his students in ‘Traditional methods and materials of painting’ class.

David Sena A’97 — Great man , full of wisdom and life , amazing artist, so happy to have been one of his students

Amber Marsh A’05 — Learned so much from this man.

Anna Muslimova A’99 — I learned so much from this precious professor! about color and technique but even more about enjoying life, making the most of each moment, filling your heart with joy and humor, doing what you like. That and also how to pick up an egg yolk with my fingers “as if it was a kitten “

Links to works:

Gian Berto Vanni Wikipedia page

Gian Berto Vanni Art Foundation

2023 ArtNet News: 5 Artists We’re Falling for This Autumn From the Artnet Gallery Network

Arco Gallery: Paintings, Gian Berto Vanni


The Inner Life of Dreamscapes 45 Greene Street Offers Rare Chance to View Six Decades of Gian Berto Vanni, Gay City News   link


The Threads of the CanvasAutobiography of a Painter     Link

Amor, (in Spanish)  Link

Love, (in English)  Link

The Magic Chalk,  by Zinken Hopp (Author), Gian Berto Vanni (Illustrator) Link