ANDY WARHOL, A BUSINESS THAT'S STILL TOPPING THE "POPS"!
A business that’s still topping the "Pops"!
“Making money is an art, and working is an art, and good business is the best kind of art!” Andy Warhol, the man who’s still making money 28 years after his death, really couldn’t have put it much better. With a Pennsylvanian museum glorifying his achievements, auction revenues as lucrative as ever, designer pieces featuring his prints and millions of spin-off products inspired by his works, the everstylish Warhol is still decidedly in vogue.
RECENTLY, A LOT OF EXHIBITIONS AROUND THE WORLD ARE PAYING TRIBUTE TO THE POPE OF POP ART. IT MAY BE NEARLY 30 YEARS SINCE HE DREW HIS LAST BREATH, BUT TODAY THE ARTIST’S WORK IS FLYING OFF SHELVES IN MUSEUM SHOPS, FASHION OUTLETS AND GADGET STORES FASTER THAN EVER BEFORE.
One sole beneficiary is responsible for managing these precious assets: the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in New York. “It was one of the artist’s dying wishes,” explains New York artist Michael Hermann Dayton, Director of Licensing at the Foundation. “His will dictated that his entire estate, with the exception of a few modest legacies to family members, should be used to create a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.” Set up on the artist’s death in 1987, the Foundation has since been recognized as one of the American contemporary art world’s most influential patrons, awarding almost 250 million dollars’ worth of grants to a variety of beneficiaries, ranging from up-and-coming artists to art institutions. But the AWF generates just as much money as it hands out. Working with Christie’s New York, the Foundation regularly auctions off works from its extensive Warhol collection, a particularly lucrative money-spinner that generated 17 million dollars in 2012. The Foundation also enjoys sole ownership of the copyright to Warhol images – images once deemed avantgarde, now considered timeless and still as popular as ever. An ever-increasing number of designers, leading brands and manufactures are showing an interest in the Pop Art pioneer’s works, sometimes pushing the boundaries of good taste. “Over the past decade, we have received ten major industry awards for the excellence of our licensing agreements, and have worked with numerous bigname brands such as Dior, Comme des Garçons, Absolut Vodka, Dom Pérignon, Perrier, Pepe Jeans London and Converse, to name but a few,” explains Hermann Dayton, who adds that “the utmost care is nonetheless taken to protect the artist’s image.” Alongside designer pieces, Warhol’s work also features on a whole host of spin-off products, notably the kind that fill the shelves in museum souvenir shops. Pascale Brun d’Arre is the manager of the book and souvenir shop at the Museum of
Modern Art in Paris, which is currently hosting the “Warhol Unlimited” exhibition. But she also works as an artist, reinterpreting existing Warhol works for items that are created for a specific exhibition. “I work with the curators, with the artists if they are still alive, and with the beneficiaries whenever possible… For this exhibition, the Warhol Foundation chose to work with ADAGP (the French artists’ rights society – Société des Auteurs dans les Arts Graphiques et Plastiques). Through them the Foundation issued its long list of demands, which focused on ensuring that copyright was clearly visible on each piece.” Taking her inspiration from the exhibited works, the artist came up with five unique pieces, including a bag, tray, notebook and magnet, which will be on sale until February 2016. “My main objective is to stay true to the artist’s vision and simply adapt his work to everyday objects. These aren’t display pieces with exorbitant price-tags – after all, we want them to sell.” It’s certainly an attitude that Warhol would have appreciated. “I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist,” he once said with great foresight.
Shoes © Comme des garçons Collaboration from May 2013