Celebrity Art: Art Created by or Depicting Celebrities Leaves a Star-Studded Path That Collectors Are Following

By Fondo, Lisa | Art Business News, October 2007 | Go to article overview

Celebrity Art: Art Created by or Depicting Celebrities Leaves a Star-Studded Path That Collectors Are Following


Fondo, Lisa, Art Business News


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"Worldly fame is but a breath of wind that blows this way and that and changes name as it changes direction."

--Dante Alighieri

Fascination with the rich and famous is nothing new. It's a phenomenon that's existed for centuries, and one that only continues to gain intensity in a society in which paparazzi outnumber news reporters, and celebrity tabloids hit newsstands daily.

The world of art, of course, has its place in this continued fascination. Museums and galleries feature portraits of royalty, poets, writers and artists who were the personalities of their days. Entire collections have been created for the likes of Hollywood superstars such as Marilyn Monroe and rocker Jim Morrison, not to mention the great number of celebrities-turned-artists, such as Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones and actress Jane Seymour, who further add to the mix of star-studded art.

So evident was the trend that Artexpo Las Vegas added a new section to its show called the Celebrity Pavilion to host the artwork of several celebrities-turned-artists. In addition, The National Portrait Gallery in London will host a Pop Art exhibition full of celebrity-inspired art from Oct. 11, 2007 through Jan. 20, 2008. It will feature work by artists Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Sir Peter Blake and David Hockney as well as the king of Pop art, Andy Warhol. These Pop artists were ahead of the game in depicting the fascination with fame and celebrities, and they paved the way for what was to come.

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Several publishers, agencies and galleries focus on art created by or featuring celebrities. One such agency is California-based SPS Limelight Agency, which was founded five years ago by Danny Stern and Daniel Crosby. Limelight is an offshoot of 25-year-old SPS Agency, which is known for handling sports icons such as Muhammad Ali and Sandy Koufax. Since its inception, SPS Limelight Agency has grown from a small, two-artist start-up to one of the largest publishers of celebrity and sports art. Its clients include artist/musician Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones and artist/singer Grace Slick, whose works were some of many included at Art-expo's Celebrity Pavilion, and many other notable namesakes.

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"True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist." --Albert Einstein

The creative link that seems evident in most performers is something Stern has observed first hand. "They all have unique talent, and perhaps more importantly, they have invested themselves in the ability to communicate with their audiences in ways that go far beyond the surface," Stern explains. "No matter what the medium is, they are all able to create a message that goes beyond pedestrian experiences and resonates with their audiences."

Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones, for instance, is known primarily for his work as a guitarist, but he has been a visual artist since childhood. One of three brothers who are all artists, Wood's artwork has been exhibited since he was 13 years old. Wood is probably best known for his portraits of bandmates and fellow musicians. However, an investigation of his work will reveal that there are many other facets of his skills as a fine artist.

Actor Eric Schweig, whose break-out role was in "Last of the Mohicans," is a working actor most recently seen in the HBO film, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." Although known primarily for his acting, Schweig is an accomplished woodcarver whose intricate and detail-oriented masks are another way he expresses his creative side. "I've been carving since I was a kid," Schweig says. "It's one of the real, cathartic ways to purge myself of any lingering, caustic sludge from my past or the world I see around me."

"I'd like to live life as a poor man with lots of money."--Pablo Picasso

The fact that a noted personality is the creator of artwork does not automatically guarantee acceptance. …

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