Absolut Kapoor

Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart on Absolut’s latest collaboration with Anish Kapoor and his reinvention of the BOTTLE.                              

 London: Artists and Vodka? Certainly not a surprising association, but one that has constantly been given new meaning for the past 27 years by Sweedish vodka company Absolut.  In 1986 Andy Warhol started a long association between Absolut and the arts community by painting their vodka bottle, more recently, this year they have announced Anish Kapoor as the artist who will continue this tradition by creating a unique installation, his interpretation of the absolut bottle.  The work is to be made using Kapoor’s trademark engagement of the viewer with space.  The creation of the bottle will be made with ‘negative’ space employing a sculpting technique that has commonly been featured in many of Kapoor’s previous works, as well as his use of metals and the colour red.  The artist elaborates on this opportunity by stating,

           “Absolut has a long history with artists, from Warhol to many of my great colleagues. The idea of somehow encapsulating whatever it is that one does in a single moment….and kind of making it an Absolut Kapoor. It is a strange notion, but one that I felt I could at least go in pursuit of” –Anish Kapoor.”

Kapoor’s bottle will be one of the latest in the collection including the work of countless established contemporary artists such as Rosemarie Trockel and Louise Bourgeiouse who have contrinbuted through their interpretations of the bottle and it’s meaning [See images below].

Louise Bourgeouis, Andy Warhol, Rosemarie Trockel for Absolut

Louise Bourgeouis, Andy Warhol, Rosemarie Trockel for Absolut. Image Credit: http://images.idiva.com/media/content/2011/Feb/absolut_art_collection_more.jpg

Closer to home, Indian designer Manish Arora designed a bottle in 2009, and soon after Subodh Gupta (in 2011), Bharti Kher (in 2012), and most recently early this year, author Vikram Seth have all participated in this artistic alliance [see images below].

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 Collaboration between brands and the arts community is a common enough occurrence.  For istance you have internationally renowned artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama who have both worked with large brands like Louis Vuitton, and more recently you have up coming artists like Thukral and Tagra who designed handbags for the Italian brand Etro.  With Absolut you can physically trace this history, starting with Warhol in 1986.  Warhol’s legacy is characterized by the genre of Pop Art, through deconstructing this term, it is evident that he essentially fused the worlds of popular culture and art together, making it more accessible or appealing to a wider audience.  Often these partnerships are accussed of having commercial overtones, or being marketing gimmicks for both the brands and the arists involved, but ultimately what they achieve is greater recognition for the artist and their works, thus providing audiences with an opportunity to discover what contemporary art is, therefore reaching a wider audience.  This focus on the audience and their experience with the work is what makes Anish Kapoor so apt and simultaneously unique as a choice to interpret the Absolut bottle. His works are conceived on the premise of viewers engagement with the space and the artwork – which is this case is the bottle – an object they have probably come across at least a couple of times.  The experience of viewing the installation encapsulates not only a very academic notion the engagement of audiences and space, but the mesh of popular culture and art as well which is extremely reflective of and imperative to the contemporary art scene.  Anish Kapoor himself reflects on this aspect of how an artwork functions (in relation to the audience) and what it can accomplish,        


Art is really all about transformation; it’s about taking a piece of metal, a lump of clay, a bit of cement, or whatever else and turning it into something that it isn’t. That fundamental transformation is truly mysterious; it is something that is in a way is wondrous. That moment of wonder is something that is deeply attractive and we are instinctively drawn to it, it is as if the work is saying come here, come and be part of this wonder, this thing that is happening. And I feel that intimacy with the viewer is something special, something we have to hold on to.” – Anish Kapoor.

The transformation of the bottle is what we are looking forward to, and have great expectations for. 

 For more information click here.

Spot on! Damien Hirst’s spot paintings exhibited worldwide

In conjunction with the the Damien Hirst spot print featured on The Story by Saffronart, Elisabetta Marabotto revisits the artist’s global exhibition, ‘The Complete Spot Paintings (1986-2011)’

Damien Hirst, Isonicotinic Acid Ethyl Ester, 2010–11.

Damien Hirst, Isonicotinic Acid Ethyl Ester, 2010–11.
Image Credit: http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/damien-hirst–january-12-2012-9/exhibition-images

London: For the few people who may not be familiar with Damien Hirst’s works, they can be categorized in three broad groups: colourful spots, medicine cabinets, and animals preserved in formaldehyde. However, the spot paintings are perhaps the most predominant element of his body of work, and definitely my favourite one.

Since the 1980s, the artist has been investigating the complex relationship between life, death and art using different media. He is one of the main figures of the collective known as the Young British Artists, who led the British art scene in the 1990s. Over the years, Hirst achieved international fame and success, and at one point was known as the world’s richest living artist. His works have always been quite controversial, but this is perhaps one of the reasons for his popularity and celebrity.

Damien Hirst, Installation view at Gagosian Gallery, London.

Damien Hirst, Installation view at Gagosian Gallery, London.

At the beginning of 2012, in conjunction with Larry Gagosian, Hirst planned to exhibit his spot paintings at Gagosian Gallery’s locations all over the world. So from January to March, every Gagosian Gallery was surrendered to the artist’s spot works. From New York and Los Angeles to London, Rome, Athens, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva more than 300 paintings by Hirst were exhibited in Gagosian’s spaces.

Most of the works were lent by private collectors or public institutions, which made the exhibitions quite different depending on the location. For example, the round canvases were very popular in America, while the irregularly-shaped ones received great success in Europe and especially London.

Damien Hirst, Zirconyl Chloride, 2008.

Damien Hirst, Zirconyl Chloride, 2008.
Image Credit: http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/damien-hirst/exhibition-images

Among the many works on display were the first ever spot painting made by Hirst in 1986, the smallest spot painting measuring 1 x ½ inches, the largest spot painting depicting four spots each measuring 60 inches in diameter and the most recent one, dated 2011, comprising 25,781 spots! In the last, each of the spots measures 1 millimeter in diameter, and no colour has been used more than once.

Speaking about his spot paintings, Hirst noted: “I was always a colorist, I’ve always had a phenomenal love of color… I mean, I just move color around on its own. So that’s where the spot paintings came from—to create that structure to do those colors, and do nothing. I suddenly got what I wanted. It was just a way of pinning down the joy of color.”

From Damien Hirst, to Yayoi Kusama and Bharti Kher (allowing myself to compare bindis to colourfully painted dots) the spot seems to be firmly entrenched in the world of contemporary art and fashion. So why not take advantage of the Hirst spot print on sale at The Story by Saffronart and become part of this trend?

More information on Damien Hirst’s “The Complete Spot Paintings” can be found on the Gagosian Gallery website and on Hirst’s website.

A large retrospective of this celebrated artist was organized by the Tate Modern, London earlier this year. Read more.

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