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above: Alëxone with his Art Star of acrylics and mixed media on denim
In early 2010, Polo Jeans Co. Ralph Lauren commissioned over 50 of Europe’s most exciting young contemporary artists to customize actual three-dimensional stars made from the finest American denim.
above: Detail from Herakut Art Star No.21 on display in Breuninger, Stuttgart.
With the iconic Stars and Stripes flag for inspiration, each young artist was tasked with creating something totally unique: beyond the shapes and sizes of the Art Stars, the only limit was their imagination.
Each 'Art Star' appeared in various Polo Jeans Co. stores all over the world, before they will be joining a public exhibition in London in late 2010.
above: Pam Glew Art Star No.1 on display in Solo, Stockholm
above: L'Atlas Art Star no.11 on display in Mexicana, Bordeaux.
Contemporary art and fashion aficionados will have the opportunity to own one of these exclusive Art Stars. Below is a look at some of them.
German duo Jasmin Siddiqui and Falk Lehmann (Hera and Akut aka HERAKUT)
Art Star No.21. I’M NOT FASHION. I’M STYLE (i hope.), 2010. Acrylics, spray paint, charcoal and love on denim.
Art Star No. 41. BREE, 2010. Oil and iridescent acrylic on denim.
Something of a Renaissance man, acclaimed painter, novelist, Free Art Fair organiser and editor Joffe gained at First Class degree in Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, before an MA at London’s Royal College of Art and a nine month scholarship to the British School in Rome.
His painting is technically excellent and can be controversial (Charles Saatchi is among his collectors), but Joffe also incorporates elements of showmanship and surprise into his shows, endlessly reinventing his trade. In 1999, he painted 24 paintings in 24 hours at The Chisenhale Gallery, repeating the experiment in Milan, before going on to do 72 paintings in 72 hours in the Czech Republic.
In 2009, Joffe gained mass attention when he famously gave away all his possessions (after a break-up and leaving his gallery) in ‘The Sale of a Lifetime’ exhibition at the Idea Generation Gallery, London.
Art Star No.15. THE MODERN MIND IS IN COMPLETE DISARRAY, 2010. Mixed media on denim.
Using salvaged material found on the streets of Berlin, Catalan-born Unai works on a larger-than-life level, often mixing installations, paintings, performances and collages to create all-encompassing exhibitions. Citing Jean Michel Basquiat and Joseph Beuys as influences, Unai revels in spontaneity, often creating works in week-long, public binges. The result is chaotic, cluttered pieces that mix symbols, phrases and found objects. He has exhibited internationally.
Art Star No.24. ARRÊTES DE JOUER TA REUSTA, 2010. Acrylic and mixed media on denim.
One of France’s foremost urban artists, Paris-based Alëxone portrays a fantasy world of Edward Lear-esque characters in his paintings and murals. Rising to fame on the streets of Paris with a series of Oedipus-inspired tags, Alëxone has gone on to exhibit worldwide. His book, Came à Yeux, is one of the most beautiful art and illustration tomes to date, and you can see his work on everything from racing cars to TV sets to beer packaging.
Art Star No.33. CAPTAIN KONG, 2010. Oil and acrylic on denim.
Inspired by the seminal urban art book Subway Art, James Jessop started his career as a pre-teen graffiti artist, before going on to gain an MA from the Royal College of Art and exhibit as part of Charles Saatchi’s famous 2004 show, New Blood. Bringing the letter forms and backgrounds of the 1980s New York subway to expertly painted canvas, Jessop adds portrayals of old film posters and dirty novels from the 1960s, creating something that is entirely unique.
Art Star No.11. L'ATLASSTAR, 2010. Gaffer tape and acrylic on denim.
One of France's foremost urban artists, L'ATLAS is inspired by the symmetry of typography and the smallest architectural details. He once claimed 'manholes are more beautiful than all the paintings in the museum'. Born in Toulouse in 1978 and now based in Paris, he often works by spray-painting the streets with trademark labarynthine patterns, and later transposing them onto canvas. He was recently commissioned to construct one of his giant compass installations in the plaza of the Pompidou Centre and is currently taking his pictures on a world tour.
Art Star No.2. YOUNG STAR TIMMS, 2010. Denim jeans, household emulsion and spray paint on denim.
Conveying the toughness and loneliness of the city, London-based artist Matt Small films unknowing strangers in the urban landscape, then turns his documentation into oil portraits on salvaged metal and found objects. The result is a detached but intricate portrayal of his subjects, displaying a masterful technique that blurs the line between traditional and abstract. Because his work does not require a staged sitting, it displays none of the self-consciousness of traditional portraiture.
Anna Taratiel (Ovni):
Art Star No.13. STARSCRAPER, 2010. Collage of fabric and threads on denim.
Translating movement into visual pieces, Barcelona-based Taratiel creates vivid canvases and walls full of spirals, sweeps and explosions. Using the streetscape as a starting point, she mixes block-ish skyscrapers, roads and terraces with great swooshes that convey the chaos of the environment. Most recently, Taratiel has mixed found objects, such as cardboard boxes and crates, with murals to create three dimensional renderings of the cityscape. She has exhibited in Milan, Lisbon and Barcelona.
Art Star No.16. HOME SWEET HOME, 2010. Mixed media and carved wood on denim.
Stefan Strumbel's Technicolor clocks and paintings focus on the concept of 'heimat', roughly translated as homeland or belonging. From his studio in the Black Forest, he uses images and objects strongly linked to cultural identity - such as cuckoo clocks and pictures of women in national costume - and mixes them with homegenised symbols that include shopping trolleys, guns and guitars, to question where exactly cultural identity is heading.
Delta (aka Boris Tellegen)
denim and styrofoam on denim.
Dutch artist Boris Tellegen aka Delta started out as a pioneering street writer in Amsterdam, before going on to forge a name for himself as a spray painter, sculptor and illustrator. Drawing inspiration from the robot obsession of his 1980s youth, as well as growth and decay, he creates complex, architectural 3D sculptures, robot-like toys and even record sleeves for a small, Amsterdam-based label. The geometric beauty of his work is instantly recognizable.
Art Star No.27. UNTITLED, 2010. Collage and laser print on canvas.
Rome-based Villa shuns Photoshop to produce collage-based works made solely with paper, scissors and glue. Concentrating on small-scale pieces (typically 5cm by 5cm), he creates miniature worlds that often display a surreal sense of humour: faces emerge from trees and the sea merges seamlessly into human organs. Free from the perfecting powers of computer manipulation, Villa's choice of material feels at once random and artfully composed. He is also a founding member of film production company Citrullo International.
Art Star No.28. LETTERS AND STRIPES, 2010. Bleached silk screen two-component printing process and clear lacquer on denim.
Basel-based Smash137 is Switzerland’s best known graffiti artist and one of the world’s most prolific writers - you can see his work on streets from New York to Moscow. Drawing influences from Western calligraphy, he’s renowned for his exact letter forms and for constant innovation in his field, skills that have enabled him to make a smooth transition from street to gallery. SMASH137's recently-published book, Smash Proof, was accompanied by an exhibition in Berlin.
Art Star No.1. CAROUSEL, 2010. Bleaching and dye on handmade star flag made from vintage denim, linen and cotton with appliqué stars on denim.
Born in Somerset, England in 1978, Pam Glew is one of the most exciting female figures in the contemporary art world. Working with found materials – most notably vintage flags – she blends embroidery, bleaching and painting techniques to create arresting portraits and idiosyncratic textile pieces that draw inspiration from current events, images of cult figures and a love of cinema. Her work has appeared in more than 60 exhibitions worldwide, and Pam has solo shows all over the world.
See all of the artist's stars for Ralph Lauren and Polo Jeans.
A very special shout out to my friend Scott Rench for bringing this to my attention.