On The Phone With, Steve Kaufman
November 20, 2004
The Andy Warhol Protégé and celebrity pop art guru talks
about his first exhibition in Glasgow.
You’re bringing some of your work to Glasgow this weekend for an exhibition. Why did an LA- based artist like you decide to put on a display in Glasgow?
My art dealer arranged it all, but I think it’s fantastic to visit new places like Glasgow. I love to come to cities I don’t know too well to find out about their icons. I’ve featured a number of British icons in my art, such as the Rolling stones, Elton John and Princess Diana. I met Diana before she died and promised her I would do a portrait of her, but when she died, didn’t have it in my heart to sell them, so I donated them to charities.
You focus your pop art work on celebrities who have done a lot for charity. Would a fundraising Scott like Billy Connolly, who also lives in LA, be someone you’d consider work on?
Absolutely, I’m looking forward to being decaled coming to London and Glasgow with my show. I expect a few seeds will be planted on this trip which you’ll definitely see in my artwork in future shows. It’s all about going somewhere new and seeing what happens next artistically. I came to London last year and that’s when I did some work on Madonna and Elton. I met Bono and Larry Mullen JR when I went to Ireland and now Bono especially has gone to be about so much more than just music. He speaks so much about would issues and that’s why I think he’s an icon, When I see and hear about people doing charity work, well, that’s what makes me perceive them as a true icon. I do it to give something back and supporting charities to help other people rather then just existing on the face of the earth. All of the money I make from this show will go directly to charities like Give Kids a Break.
You were Andy Warhol’s assistant and his influence is clear from your work. Did he have the same approach?
Mine is very different. If you look pretty and were well known, you were an Andy. For me, you have to do more than that. Someone like Muhammad Ali is an icon because not only is he very well known, but also, he’s done a lot of work for charity.
Have you ever refused paint any famous figures?
Sure, I’ve been asked by Will Smith, P Diddy and Jennifer Lopez, who has actually asked me a number of times. She grew up in the South Bronx like I did, but I don’t see her going back there to help anyone. She should set up a college fund or something. Will Smith and P Diddy are such great role models, but they should be doing more for people.