Christ in a White Robe

Within the first two years that I was drawing on the streets of Rome, the appearance of a small group of energetic young pavement artists began to create a stir among the Romans. Two young Italians sold the idea of a book to the publisher Gammalibri. They took all the photos and did all the interviews during the three weeks surrounding Easter in Rome. For this reason, the book was not very thorough. I wrote this about the time period:

27My favorite spot was on the corner of the Via del Corso and Largo Tritone, where the passersby were a mix of government officials, high-end shoppers, journalists, tourists, and an assortment of young Italians. The location was just across the street from Piazza Colonna and the Italian Parliament, in the heart of Rome. Such a setting meant that I never knew what the day would bring, as there could be demonstrations with shouting protesters or a general strike that left the streets empty and deserted. But being at the center of Italian politics also meant that the national newspaper’s offices were just a stone’s throw from the painting site, and I soon became the subject of many articles.

It often seemed that no one in Rome actually worked, as so many people were always milling about in the streets and piazzas, talking passionately, drinking espresso, and reading the newspapers. Such a lifestyle was marvelous, especially because it gave people plenty of time to look at my work. While working at the train station, I had gotten very dirty, and I knew this would not go over well with the impeccably dressed Romans in the heart of the city. I invested in expensive chalks and pastels to keep the dust to a minimum, and I washed the pavement before starting to work. I did my best to keep a clean, professional appearance, and this instantly enhanced my relationship with the Romans. People asked me questions about my life and work, and they were always perplexed about what an American was doing on the street.


I did a number of sacred works at this time, many of which were never photographed. Recently I have been recreating some of the lost ones as fine arts print editions. Christ in a White Robe is an example of these works. It can be seen at the Andrea Smith Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. The address is below:

Andrea Smith Galleries


336 Hwy 179 Sedona AZ 86336


Their website is here: Andrea Smith Gallery Home.

My page is here: Kurt Wenner



The figure of Moses was the first subject I ever painted on the street. My first try was at the Rome train station. I was not able to complete it, so I did another version on the Via del Corso, also in Rome.  Below is my account of the experience:

Moses Drawing24Early the next morning, I headed for the piazza determined to start a street painting on my own. I knew there were risks involved, such as having my fingers stepped on, or being moved on by the police. The idea of being able to apply all that I’d learned in the past months to a full-scale painting kept me from backing down. At the time, the train station was anything but gracious or comfortable. It had been under construction for many years, and was covered in rusty siding that funneled commuters into a narrow corridor. Black-market sellers, drug pushers, and Gypsies all sought their victims here. By the time I arrived at the station, my heart was pounding. I wove my way through the commuters, looking for an appropriate spot to set out my materials. As a visual reference, I was using my drawing of Michelangelo’s statue of Moses. An endless distracting dance of feet fell all around me, but soon a small group of spectators formed, and in their stillness I was protected from the surrounding chaos. I experienced for the first time a phenomenon that would come to repeat itself over and over again: The power of the image transformed not only the space but also everything and everyone around it. As the image grew, so did the audience, and the synergy created between the two was a tangible, positive force.

Moses pastelBeing in the center of this radiant field gave me the confidence I needed to set out a few baskets to collect offerings. People tossed in coins immediately and enthusiastically. Given the shadier denizens of the area, I thought it would be difficult to hold on to the money. However, no one tried to take the coins from the baskets. At one point, a large group of garishly dressed Gypsies surrounded me. I tried to ignore their presence and concentrated on my work as they scrutinized the picture. They pointed and talked among themselves, in their own language, until they seemed to arrive at a collective decision. I braced myself. Suddenly, they all dropped some coins into the baskets, nodded at me, and then silently departed.

I only ever took very low quality photographs in the first two years of working on the street. It was lucky I took any at all. When it came time to publish my book, Asphalt Renaissance, I recreated some details of the early works to show the surface texture of the works and better tell the story. I  have made this image into a limited edition print. It can be seen at the Andrea Smith Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. The address is below:

Tlaquepaque Suite D102
336 Highway 179
Sedona, AZ 86336

Their website is here: Andrea Smith Gallery Home.

My page is here: Kurt Wenner


Entablature Design

Entablature DesignThis drawing is an architectural detail of a very elaborate residence called the Villa Tramontana. For the interiors and exteriors of this project I created hundreds of individual designs which were then composited into larger images. I created the unique architectural details as full size measured plans for the villa, ready to be sculpted and cast. Interior ceiling decorations were also designed to scale for the residence and therefore were ready for production.

Villa Tramontana’s floor plan is symmetrical and centralized, with a total living space of approximately 10,000 square feet. The main level consists of a grand foyer, living room, dining room and library all in an open floor plan. A central corridor leads to a kitchen and family room in one wing of the residence, and the master bedroom, bath and dressing room in are in a separate wing. The lower level consists of guest bedrooms, service and utility rooms, garages, and a convenient covered entrance.

The villa’s design and all the details are completely original, though inspired by 16th century Roman Late Renaissance architecture. The villa was never executed for the original client so the designs are available for anyone who wants a grand residence! For more images, click here, or on the picture below:

Villa Tramontana 600

The entablature design is also available as a limited edition print on my online store. Click here for more information. I also offer workshops on architectural design and proportioning. Click here for a description.


TerpsicoreOne of the nicest experiences I have had was during the Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration. I was invited to create a work for this large open-air family celebration. My involvement also included working with different schools in the Washington D.C.- Baltimore- Virginia area to train children for the event, which included pavement art that year. I had developed a 2-day school residency art program working in conjunction with the Music Center’s Education Department. The program was available to schools throughout the United States. In the end, I taught drawing with pastels to more than 100,000 students from elementary school through university level over the course of a decade and for this I was Awarded The Kennedy Center Medallion in recognition for outstanding contribution to arts education.


The event also included a one-man show of drawings, including many that I did for the festival composition. The theme was Apollo and the muses. I was not a 3D work, but used an attenuated wide-angle perspective I was experimenting with at the time. The figure of Terpsichore is in the center- back of the composition. The painted version actually ended up being smaller than the drawing. The drawing is available as a limited edition print from my online store. Click here for more information.


Madonna and Child

Madonna and ChildI created this work for a kind of project one never hears about. In Italy there are many, many paintings from different centuries in need of restoration. There are also many “falsi”, (meaning counterfeit paintings). What I never knew before I lived in Italy was that old paintings are in all different states of decay. Some paintings merely need cleaning or a couple of cracks filled. Others are missing important details, (such as heads), entirely. There is no actual rule as to how much of the painting can be repainted before it is considered an actual antique as opposed to a fake. Some of the shops that do this kind of restoration are so good that it takes a real connoisseur to tell what has been painted in and what is original. The canvas is of course real, as is much of the paint. Sometimes at antique shows some of the gallery owners give themselves away by using the same “restorer” on a number of different works from different times. If they are hung together there is a suspiciously similar quality to the works.

Serious restorers use a technique of painting in the missing parts with tiny vertical lines so that with a magnifying glass one can plainly see the original from the restoration. For this work I was asked to recreate an image from a canvas where only the feet were plainly visible. The top area of the canvas was a mere shadow and nobody knew what it looked like. I only did the drawing for the project and have never seen the “restoration”. The drawing is gridded lightly as we did in the day in order to transfer the information from what remained of the original to the paper, and then back again to the canvas.

I am offering a limited edition of this image as fine arts prints. Click here for the link to my online store.

Arabian Battle

IFI did this drawing for a series of murals that were to be executed in fired ceramic tile. They were to be placed at the entrance of an elegant stable that housed award winning Arabian horses. The client changed residences, so the works were never completed, although I eventually did a ceramic mural on another subject for the new residence.

Villa Te

Villa TeThe Villa Te was designed for clients who lived where there were strict restrictions regarding height, bulk and scale of a project. The villa was designed to remain relatively inconspicuous to the surrounding residents, yet take advantage of the panoramic views of the city and coastline.

I conceived the residence as a cluster of intertwined “temples.” The result has the appearance of a small idyllic village. The villa is a split-level residence with the living room ceiling soaring the full height of the two-storey structure. Vaulted rooms on the ground floor push up through roof gardens above to give added volume and height to the interior spaces.

The decorative language of the villa is completely original, inspired by Italian Byzantine architecture for its structure, and the Italian Early Renaissance for the details. In addition to the main house, a pool house and numerous separate guest quarters were designed for the huge property.

Click on the image or here for a portfolio of the villa with its floor plans as well as the surrounding residences.

Dies Irae

Dies Irae Canvas 600This is possibly my most well-known image. It has been published countless times. Here the image is inserted into the graphic surround I designed as the poster for the second Santa Barbara I Madonnari Festival. I later produced a set of posters with the original 13th century poem of the Dies Irae. The poem is fairly long, but I have attached a translation here: Dies Irae Text.

Dies Irae translates as The Day of Wrath, and describes the last judgment, when the dead crawl out from the Earth to be judged. it is part of the Catholic Requiem mass and has been set to music by Mozart, Verdi and other great composers.

Below is a setting by Camille Saint-Saëns:

There is a story about the creation of the work that can be read here.

The poster was produced in a fairly large number. I am offering an archival print of it on canvas in a signed but unnumbered edition. Click here for more information.

The Ghetto

Ghetto 600This was the third of three images I created on the theme of contemporary “hells”. This work is shown in front of a completely burnt out building of a huge nursery that was near the Garda lake in Northern Italy. The image is filled with details of all sorts of evils brought on by poverty. It is one of my personal favorites and was used on the inside cover of my book, Asphalt Renaissance.

The image is available as a limited edition print. Click here for more information.


Gluttony Epson Canvas 600This was the second of three images I created on the theme of contemporary “hells”. Gluttony does not just refer to overeating but also to the idea of consumerism. This image is shown in the Palazzo Te in Mantua. It is one of my very favorite late Renaissance, (mannerist), buildings in all of Italy. I filmed a part of the National Geographic documentary, Masterpieces in Chalk in this palazzo before it was restored. One of the scenes was in the Room of the Giants. This room is painted floor and ceiling with a continuous scene of the “battle between the gods and the giants” from classical mythology. The room is only some meters from the loggia where Gluttony is shown in this image. Near Mantua a huge shopping center had recently been built with the name “Il Gigante”. So in the image there is a pun between the “giant” shopping center, the room of the giants and the gigantic proportions of the figures in the pavement art. The image is available as a limited edition print in my website store. Click here for more information.