Betti Franceschi is an artist who has done a double major in school and in life: fine art and ballet. Born in 1934 and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, she studied liberal and fine arts, as well as ballet with Marguerite deAnguerra at Indiana University, Bloomington, fine art with Roger Anliker at Carnegie Tech before it was Carnegie Mellon, and art history with Rosalind Krauss at Hunter College.
Her Still Point drawings — vertical-hatched tightly realistic nude close-ups of dancers’ centers — were published in London as a book, which won six nominations to the National Trust Show in London and Frankfurt, and exhibited, among other venues, at Sadlers Wells in London, the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs NY, and the Philharmonic Center in Naples Florida. Her explosive, almost abstract, zen-calligraphic Signature drawings of dancers in motion, have been exhibited in several venues, and reproduced on three t-shirts for New York City Ballet.
Her work has been reviewed in the London Evening Standard, the New York Times, the Saratogian, the New York City Ballet Playbill, and Dance Magazine.
In drawings, paintings and sculptures of the most physically articulate people, mainly great dancers, she has followed her lifelong interest in how we live in our bodies. Her Still Point drawings are a treatise on the body’s center and its use as the focal point of dance technique. Her Signature drawings show each dancer’s very personal and creative inner line. The Ageless Dancers photographs show the indelible spirit of the lifelong performer.
Below is my interview with Betti Franceschi
Where were you born? Cleveland OH, as it says on my Facebook page.
How did you get into art? My parents thought I was talented and they sent me to art school so I could earn a living without talking, since I have a bad stutter.
Where you always artistic? Probably so but I didn’t think so until I got to a good art school and saw where I stood.
How far did you go in ballet if at all since you said you love ballet and your daughter is Antonia Franceschi the world famous ballet dancer, choreographer and teacher? Where did your passion for ballet come from? I fell in love with ballet at my first class at age 8. My mother prevented really good training but I managed what I could.
You use ballet dancers in your fine art work has Antonia been a model for you? Antonia has modeled for me twice.
If you were not an artist what would you be? I think I should have been a writer, but nobody thought of that.. except my writing teachers.
What part of the world other than where you are could you see yourself living? I’m too old to think about moving but I have connections in Italy, France and England that I like to visit. But NYC is home.
What is your best childhood memory? My grandfather was near the end of his life, but he got out of his deathbed every Saturday to take me horseback riding. Then when he drove me home, I would make a drawing of him in the driver’s seat, from the passenger seat. He was not at all vain, he just enjoyed watching me ride and then watching me draw.
See more of Betti’s work on her website: http://www.bettifranceschi.com/