The story of Antonio Blanco is one of dreams and adventure, and begins on September 15, 1912. Blanco was born in Manila to Spanish parents who had fled the Spanish-American War. His father was a prominent physician who sent his son to the American Central School in Manila for his education, where they boy excelled art, literature and languages. Blanco would acquire six languages in total; French, English, Spanish, Tagalog, Indonesian and some Balinese. After highschool, he would travel to New York to study at the National Academy of Art under Sidney Dickinson. His strongest interest in subject matter was the human form, especially composition of the female anatomy. After the Academy, he went on to work and live in both Florida and California and eventually traveled to the islands of the Pacific. He spent time in Hawaii, Japan and Cambodia where he would be the guest of honor to Prince Norodom Sihanouk. By 1952, Blanco arrived at the shores of Bali. However, as soon as he stepped ashore he realized all his belongings had been stolen. With no identification or money, he survived by his talent and charm, stealing the favor of the King of Ubud, Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati. Blanco would marry a native dancer of significant celebrity, Ni Ronji, by the following year. His new wife, her culture and stunning homeland would be the final key to Blanco’s quest for artistic inspiration. He became deeply enamoured with Bali’s people, scenery, and the unique atmosphere full of color, sweeping panoramic views and plentiful availability of stunning female subjects. Finally home, Blanco quickly set to constructing a house for his bride and himself, as well as a studio. His new friend, King Sukawati, gifted land to the artist which was situated high on a hillside in Campuan, surrounded by lush gardens at the crux of two sacred rivers. Blanco had everything he needed to hide away and create his energetic paintings day in and day out. Over the next nearly 50 years, his continuous efforts in creation bred a significant body of work that was appreciated and highly desired across the globe, despite his tendency to always stay home with his lovely wife and growing family in their gorgeous mansion. He would, in fact, become the most famous working foreign artist in Bali, developing a wide gambit of celebrity collectors from Ingrid Bergman and President Sukarno of Indonesia to Michael Jackson and telenovela star Ariadna Thalia Sodi Miranda. His high energy, smooth charisma and theatrical personality gained him the nickname “The Fabulous Blanco” to many across the art world. Throughout his lifetime, Blanco received tremendous accolades; from the Tiffany Fellowship from The Society of Honolulu Artists and the Chevalier du Sahametrai of Cambodia to the Society of Painters of Fine Art Quality of President Sukarno and the Prize of the Art Critique in Spain. The King of Spain, Juan Carlos, even awarded Blanco the order of Cruz de Caballero, thereby adding the title “Don” to his name. Blanco is best known for his works featuring indigenous women of Bali, highlighting the essence of femininity with a dreamlike romanticism with highly expressive strokes. In December, 1998, a great dream of Blanco’s came true with the beginning development of The Blanco Renaissance Museum at his residence. Over 300 paintings were displayed in chronological order, illustrating his stylistic development and maturity over the years of his long career. The building itself boasts flamboyant architecture that perfectly embodies the vivacious personality of the artist himself. Blanco’s original poetry and literary works were housed on the second floor of the three story building. Also displayed inside were artworks by his son, Mario, who brought Blanco great pride by following in his footsteps. Sadly, merely one year later, on December 10, 1999, just before the museum’s inauguration, Don Antonio Blanco passed away from heart and kidney failure. He left behind his beloved wife and four children, as well as a spectacular lasting tribute to the beauty and joy he so revelled in during his lifetime.
Affiliated Schools, Galleries and Organizations American Central School, Manila Blanco Renaissance Museum National Academy of Art, New York Museum Neka Arma Museum The Agung Rai Museum Museum Puri Lukisan
Some Known Works The Virgin of Bali (lithograph) My Castle of Dreams (1962) The Cinderella of Bali (1964) Eve’s Apple is Still Intact (1967) Odalisque (1969)