Superstar art dealer Larry Gagosian is certainly tapped into the zeitgeist, with his high-profile stable of artists, mini-empire (New York, Beverly Hills, London, Rome, Hong Kong, Athens) and recently, with his new shop that sells multiples by big-name artists in New York. The shop is new for a dealer, but not so new for the art world. It began with Claes Oldenburg’s art project The Store from 1961, and more recently, when Takashi Murakami began collaborating on Louis Vuitton-emblazoned merch, (and then opened a shop with his show at the LA MOCA.)
It’s clear that art has met fashion, and fallen in love.
As author Don Thompson makes evident in his observations from inside the international art world in his book The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art (a reference to Damien Hirst’s shark preserved in formeldahyde), art has become about brands. And almost no one brands more successfully than Hirst and Gagosian.
It was probably inevitable, but it seems a shame that art has been reduced to branding. When the focus is on the brand, it takes away from the value of the art.
Artist Takashi Murakami with merchandise for Louis Vuitton. Image: rocketdive.tistory.com
But today, it’s about branding. So at Gagosian’s new shop you can buy virtually all of the Gagosian-empire publications, posters, and prints, as well as limited editions by John Currin, Tom Friedman, Ellen Gallagher, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Marc Newson, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Tom Sachs, and Franz West.
In 2005, Damien Hirst established Other Criteria, a company that works directly with a number of established and emerging artists to make limited editions and multiples, t-shirts, jewellery, photographs, posters, prints and books. There are now 2 shops, at 36 New Bond Street, and 14 Hinde Street, London.
Closer to home, you can check out Toronto’s Art Metropole, which was established in 1974 by the artists’ group General Idea. They have terrific artist multiples and bookworks, including a lovely print with gold leaf from 1980 by Luciano Bartolini, a beautifully sculpted, large-scale wooden disposable razor by James Carl and Max Dean’s Thumb Chair, a mini version of his amazing Robotic Chair. Last night, an insightful friend-of-VoCA reminded us that multiples are intended to make art affordable and available to more people, and that’s a very good thing.
Read the full story on Gagosian HERE