Born in Italy in 1972, Michele Castagnetti spent his formative years in Rome, studied graphic design at the Ateneo Creativo in Milan and received a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Michele Castagnetti has worked as an art director for major advertising agencies in New York and Los Angeles winning awards in art direction, design, photography and film. Castagnetti’s fine art work has appeared in many international exhibitions by notable curators such as Anuradha Vikram, Peter Frank, Mat Gleason of Coagula Curatorial, and David Pagel, art critic at The Los Angeles Times.
Castagnetti’s work is quite often a provocation, almost militant, against brands, trends and consumerism. Faux advertising/marketing logos are presented to dismantle the many myths we’ve become accustomed to; the myth of the good, of vanity and of spirituality as a product. Art in its eclectic form is used as a weapon against time, against the many contradictions between object and subjects, against classicism and its concept of beauty. The work of Michele Castagnetti lives in this branding world obsessed about riding trends, where a clever slogan still has a small triumph. The unmasking of this “aspirational” world – key word of every marketing brief targeted to sell you a product / service – is of tremendous satisfaction for Castagnetti. The ironic branding language is intended to make you doubt, for a split second, its genuineness. A game. Castagnetti is constantly creating, fueled by the latest trend, which while selling you individualism, it tricks you into wearing white sneakers.
“Michele Castagnetti allows plenty of wit into his work, but he’s serious about the spirit and method he has inherited from his Futurist forebears. Wanting his work to be at the same time elegant and off-putting, he makes pictorial and production decisions that defy and yet speak in the language of high art, and that ape popular visual forms without disappearing into them. Something of a “newbrow” abstractionist, Castagnetti has his cake – baked in a Futurist kitchen – and eats it, too.” – Peter Frank, Art Critic / Curator
“Michele Castagnetti uses familiar iconography, branding, and humor to comment on American consumerism. He creates playful, tongue-in-cheek narratives that challenge the viewer to question prevailing norms. Castagnetti is an Italian transplant and he finds America inspiring for artists because of the many paradoxes in American culture. As Castagnetti says, “you’ll have a homeless man passed out next to a Lamborghini.” It’s a land of extremes that gives Castagnetti fuel for his artistic commentaries. Castagnetti’s gun-toting American Jesus is very different from the Catholic iconography of his youth. His Jesus the Hunter envisions a literal modern-day Christian soldier. Castagnetti’s work is incisive but he doesn’t take himself or his art too seriously. He invites the viewer to look a bit deeper at the things that we take as fact and see as commonplace, while poking fun at the absurdity of life.” – Hilary Chapman, Curator
"Castagnetti interprets modern-day mass marketing and traditional iconography. Just like in marketing, art is communication; both can cross-pollinate generating opposing or subversive messages becoming a “Double Standard.” Castagnetti’s creations are therefore not in the Pop Art sphere, even if they have a dynamic and immediate read, they reflect on some mediums emphasizing the penetration of visual culture into our image-conscious society." – Fabio Bianchi, Art Critic / Journalist
"Michele Castagnetti creates small visual short-circuits which bring us to reflect on out present." – Jacopo Veneziani, President, Fondazione Ricci Oddi
“The mission of the artist is to unmask the various contemporary follies. A ‘serious’ artist is not an artist.” – Michele Castagnetti