Artist: Steve Kaufman
Title: Romeo y Julieta Churchill
Medium: Embellished color screenprint on canvas
Dimensions: 23 3/4" x 9"
Inscription: Initialed "SK" and numbered on reverse
Documentation: Includes gallery certificate of authenticity
In "Romeo y Julieta Churchill", Steve Kaufman revisits his perennial cigar motif. Rendered in the bright colors with his signature tie-die effect, Kaufman imbues this screenprint with the modern pop art sensibility that has come to define his career.
Kaufman began his foray into the art world working as an assistant to Andy Warhol and his famous factory. The influence of Warhol on Kaufman's career is undeniable, and in many ways we can track Kaufman's career progression in relation to that influence. Kaufman's work often shared symbols with Warhol's, including soup cans, Albert Einstein, and Marilyn Monroe. These works explored the themes of ordinary objects and celebrity culture which defined pop art during the post war era. Kaufman began to create his own lexicon of symbols as time went on, continuing the dialogue of pop art. Today, he may be best known for his cigar series. Similar to the origins of pop art, the cigar series elevates an everyday object to the level of high art. Unlike the roots of pop art movement, however; it does seem Kaufman is intentionally using the cigar as a type of symbol to offer commentary about the world in which we live.
"Romeo y Julieta Churchill" is signed and numbered "SK 44/99" on the reverse and includes a certificate of authenticity from Modern Artifact.
About Steve Kaufman
Steve Kaufman is one of the most influential pop artists in U.S. history. His work is appreciated for both its technical merit and its historical importance in pushing the pop art movement forward. Steve Kaufman single-handedly transformed pop art from a discipline focused on ordinary objects to art with social relevance. Even by artist standards, Steve Kaufman was an extremely precocious child. He held his first art show at his synagogue when he was only 8 years old, and works from that show are now hanging in the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Brooklyn, New York. At age 12, Kaufman achieved his first commercial success when he was commissioned to paint custom pet rocks for the New York City Macy's department store. Kaufman continued to experience success selling his art during his teens before enrolling in the famous New York institution the Parsons School of design.
Steve Kaufman met the American pop art pioneer Andy Warhol at Studio 54 in New York City. The two soon developed a friendship and working relationship where Kaufman served as Warhol's assistant at his famous studio called "The factory." Kaufman was heavily influenced by Warhol's style. He and Warhol used many of the same mediums including sculpture, photography, stained glass, mixed media and film making, but his paintings and prints are by far the most famous. He is also famous for painting unusual objects, including Mercedes Benz and a Formula One Race Car. He is famous for painting celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, Marilyn Monroe, and Jackie Kennedy. He also produced a very successful screen print series of Cohiba cigars that remain some of Kaufman's bestselling work today.
Early American pop art focused on making ordinary objects and images into works of art. Critics of pop art have criticized the school of art for being cold and lacking human emotion. While pop art was often injected with a sense of humor and an invitation for the audience to reflect on their value set, there was not much inherent personality in the paintings. Steve Kaufman's art was a pioneer in changing the face or pop art to a more human one with added social relevance.
Kaufman was a major advocate for AIDS awareness and one of the recognizable pieces of Kaufman art is his 5 foot by 5 foot canvas of Trojan condoms. He also used his art to promote racial equality and advocate for an end to homelessness.