Collecting art can be an intimidating process, mainly because you have to ask yourself a lot of questions. What does this art say about me as a person? As an art collector? How much is a work of art actually worth? And perhaps most importantly, am I going to like this in five years? The work of Alejandro de Antonio, a prominent modern Spanish artist is far easier to understand and enjoy, and you can choose which of his pieces to purchase by looking on your iPod at your most played artists, or by peeking at your the most watched DVDs in your collection. His Unconventional Materials Series is made of large metal casts of vinyl records (LP's) and 35mm film canisters. On those unusual canvases, he creates evocative portraits of the most famous faces from music and movies, captured on the medium that made them famous.
There is no need to worry about what this art "means", or what your friends will think when they come over to see the new piece you've put over your mantle. The explanation is as easy as popping on your favorite album, or sitting down to watch the Godfather for the 47th time. Alejandro de Antonio straddles the line between commercial art and aesthetic creations in an accessible way. Most people already have strong associations and opinions on music that they've developed over the course of their life, and this art is a way of expressing your passion and fandom in an interesting and striking way. Imagine the statement you will make by having a three foot cast of Robert Smith (The Cure) behind your couch?
Robert Smith on the Wall
Alejandro de Antonio has taken the pop culture idea of the college dorm room poster and brought it up to a more adult and impressive scale. Hanging Pamela Anderson on the wall in your 30s isn't necessarily something that screams "grown up", but a visually stunning portrait of Jimi Hendrix in your family room is decidedly more mature. For those burgeoning art collectors who want to put a part of themselves on the wall, without taking a modern art class to explain what it means to people at their housewarming party, these spectacular pieces are an obvious choice.
It isn't all about the statement that buyers make on their walls, it also shows a rare side of artistic creation that says more about the consumer than the artist. Obviously, Alejandro de Antonio loves music and movies, but the difficult lies in the physical process of creation, not in the artistic input of subject matter. There aren't many artists who can bridge the gap between the creative process and the commercial demand, but this visionary artist cum interior decorator has managed to accomplish it in a beautiful way.
Jimi Hendrix on the Wall
Some people may want to make a statement about their love of movies, rather than their passion for aging rockers, and Alejandro continued his Unconventional Materials in his Art Rooms with the stars of the silver screen as well. His installations with movie stars have an eerie quality, showing how art can dominate a space in a different and more powerful way than furniture or color schemes. The power of art as a decorative tool is well known, that is why most people hang art on their walls, but the bold minimalism of a recognizable face is captivating. We associate ideas so quickly with certain people, and it impacts our understanding of a space, and the mood of a blank wall in a way that a landscape or an abstract painting simply fails to do.
Marlon Brando on the Wall
Al Pacino on the Wall
Not everyone has a wall big enough or a passion deep enough to put a massive face on their wall, so Alejandro has once again crossed that difficult boundary of commercialism and artistic integrity. He has shrunk his images down and plastered them on everything from iPods to pillow cases in an effort to make his pop culture icons more accessible to the public. Maintaining your status as a significant and relevant artist can be difficult if the art world thinks that you have "sold out", but that is the direction that an increasingly large amount of artists are moving.
Also, as our modern lives are taken over by distractions of technology, popular culture, and our own ambitions, museums and art galleries have taken a serious hit in attendance, and it begs the question, how much value is in art if no one can see it? Alejandro de Antonio recognized the potential in his work and is using it as free, mobile advertising. T-shirts, laptop skins, and tote bags are yet another form of pop culture canvas that he is putting his images on, reinforcing his underlying point that art is meant to not only reflect life, but to be an active part of it.
If you dig his work and want to see more of his startlingly simple and powerful work, visit his website and explore all of the iconic stars of sound and screen that he has immortalized yet again.
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