ANDY WARHOL, A BUSI­NESS THAT'S STILL TOP­PING THE "POPS"!

A busi­ness that’s still top­ping the "Pops"!

The Pullman Magazine - - Contents - TEXT RITA G. YACOUT

“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

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