The Artist Formerly Known as ‘Princess TNT’

“Daahling! I’m so happy you were able to make it!

Bob, meet Bob! Bob Shafer, Ambassador of the Order of Malta to the UN, this is Bob Colacello, writer extraordinaire!”

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Bob Colacello in the middle of the group

Today, Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis still has the spunk that earned her the nickname “Princess TNT, Dynamite Socialite” and “Punk Princess” in the late 80s and early 90s, although this time she is channeling it into her own work.

courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk

Gloria at a ball in 1989. (courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

Known for reinventing herself repeatedly, from barmaid to [punk] princess, to business woman, and devout Catholic, Gloria’s latest incarnation is as a visual artist.

“Gloria! I thought you were a museum guard!” Said a friend who came to the opening.

“No no, it’s just fantasy”, responded Gloria with a smile, describing her attire.

“She never disappoints, does she?”

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I managed to get her attention amidst the excitement of her opening to ask her how long it took her to paint all the portraits of the Catholic priests that were hanging on each wall.

“One month!” she said.

I immediately imagined her feverishly painting in her apartment in Rome, non-stop for that entire month. In fact, I cannot imagine her sitting still for one moment. The same fervor that caught the attention of Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis when she was 19 years old, is the same that she applies to everything she does- whether it’s entertaining, traveling, collecting, or painting.

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I’m going to cheat a little and quote Vanity Fair, because they wrote up a great interview on her newest passion and in the process painted a pretty good picture of Princess Gloria herself:

Vanity Fair Daily: When did you do your first portrait?

Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis: Two years ago. I started with my niece, but only for fun, more like a caricature. My mother said, “Why don’t you try to do somebody else?” My first series, I called it “My Best Friends.” I did all the people who somehow played a role in my life. Alfred Taubman, Countess Beatrice von Hardenberg, Prince Aga Khan, Peter Marino, Alessandra Borghese, Francesca Habsburg, George Condo, André Leon Talley, Quincy Jones, some priests, Jacob Rothschild—

Il Papa?

Il Papa, of course, the chief of the Swiss Guards, my daughters, some cardinals, David Kuhn, Michael Jackson, Jeff Koons—

Having read a lot about Gloria’s past and the way she saved her family from going bankrupt after her husband’s death, I have no doubt that her newest endeavor will be a total success. With the name Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, the paintings already have a celebrity caché that will provide it automatically with value, and for $2700, you can have Gloria paint a portrait of you.

VF: How does it feel, knowing that because of your name, these pieces might one day be coveted, might soar in value?

GTT: What I would like to achieve the most is that people commission me to do their portraits. Because this gives me interaction with people. And as it is a sleeping genre, I’d love to be able to enter it. I mean, the British are fabulous, the British have a huge school, but when you research on the Internet, you find there are very few [portraitists] who are sexy. And I think there needs to be a sexiness, too. In our times we are so spoiled by contemporary art and its sexiness, we cannot go back to the 19th century. It’s dull.

You can read the rest of the interview here. And then afterwards, go see her show, titled “Men of God” in person, which is up at the National Exemplar Gallery until July 23.

Also, besides having immediate value, her portraits are quite good! They remind me a bit of Elizabeth Peyton‘s portraits, and well, she’s gone on to exhibit her work at the New Museum, the MoMA, and the Whitney among others, with a painting selling in 2005 for $800,000

So maybe, go buy one of Gloria’s portraits now?

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Father Gerald Murray in front of his portrait.

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The National Exemplar Gallery @ 381 Broadway, NY, NY 10013
Gloria von Thurn und Taxis: “Men of God”
until July 23

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