"One very important and guiding principle to my work is to reach out beyond the elitist boundaries of fine art and connect to popular culture through my art," says Kenny Scharf."
Bursting onto the scene in the late 1970s, and a key figure of the legendary street art movement of the 1980s, Kenny Scharf came up with artists such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat—artists who found their place, and their people, in the basement of a Polish church on St. Mark's Place in the East Village of Manhattan.
Club 57, as it was called, began as a no-budget venue for music and film exhibitions, and quickly took pride of place in a constellation of countercultural venues in downtown New York fueled by low rents, the Reagan presidency, and the desire to experiment with new modes of art, performance, fashion, music, and exhibition.
Since those heady days, Scharf has vehemently pursued an artistic practice that's been described as pop, surrealist, imaginative, and at times "downright weird" — though it spans street art, painting on canvas, video, performance, and installation.
Over the years Scharf’s ability to merge high and low culture has solidified his position as a celebrated and influential contemporary artist.
He has undertaken many collaborations, the latest of which, is with the New York Academy of Art.
Los Niños Y Las Niñas, 2023 is released in a limited edition of 100 archival pigment print on 290-gram Entrada Rag paper, signed and numbered on recto.
The edition sprang from a painting Scharf created as a mural in the New York Academy of Art lobby for the 2022 Tribeca Ball - while many of the students watched.
The exercise mirrored many of the events Scharf pioneered in Eighties New York. Looking back on those times he told Artspace the art scene at the time was “an intermingling of the nightclub and the night world, though that was not what was going on in the established art world. The aesthetic at the time was conceptual and minimal and we were the opposite. We were just celebrating excess. I remember there were moments when I was so excited and swept away, I knew it was magical.”
The new edition is remindful of Scharf’s vibrant and imaginative style. Inspired by popular culture, cartoons and science fiction, Scharf’s art is characterised by his playful and whimsical style.
“I never really thought about my style—other than just doing my style,” he has told Artspace. “A style is something that you’re obsessed with, or it's things that you want to focus on or learn as you're painting and developing. I’ve always been attracted to that kind of exuberant line, going fast and forward and moving. There’s always movement.”
Find out more about Los Niños Y Las Niñas, 2023 here.