Comic Book Superheroes as Pop Art

By Robert Michelson

January 6, 2010 — Some of the biggest names in the Pop Art world, Warhol, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, used Comic Book characters in their paintings. At the time, they were criticized by critics and other artists. Time Magazine ran an article saying “Lichtenstein the worst artist in the world.” 30 years later these artists are household names.

Now there is an artist, Steve Kaufman, former assistant to Andy Warhol, who again is creating paintings using images from Comic Books. Just as Lichtenstein, Warhol and Rauschenberg did, the critics, art dealers and the press is criticizing the work of this artist. But Steve is more than a Comic Book painter. He has had the honor of painting authorized portraits of Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, Marilyn Monroe, as well as the Picasso portrait for the Picasso Academy of Fine Arts of Spain, and Van Gogh portrait. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will use the images as its poster to promote the museum to a younger audience. Imagine being the 1st American Artist asked to paint the portraits of Europe’s 2 greatest artists.

Last week on Ebay there was a Comic Book painting created by Steve Kaufman of Captain America and Bill Clinton for sell for $250,000. The painting is on Ebay at a 400% profit.

In the US, home price have declined more than 30% from their peak and even more in certain states. 2010 may see more declines as well. One positive tone from this for homeowners is that at least home prices are holding up better than the stock market.

What is it about art that drives so many wealthy people to build collections? Personal interest only goes so far. Can sophisticated investors, including people such as David Rockefeller, Donald Maroon, and David Geffen, in addition to numerous hedge fund managers, really check their financial sense at the door? Or is art a better investment than we understand?

It so happens that 1962 was also the year Warren Buffet began accumulating stock in Berkshire Hathaway. He paid $8 a share; the current price is $109,000. That’s the big leagues of investing, a 23.56% return. But if “Lemon Marilyn” goes for $20 million, that far-sighted collector will wind up with a gain of 28.52% every year for 45 years.

“I’ve collected Andy Warhol paintings from 1969 to 1977. Bought a Warhol’s “Marilyn Monroe” for $10,000 and later sold it for $5 Million dollars. I’m retired now, but I’ve bought 179 Steve Kaufman paintings for my grandkid’s future” John Paul Loop, Art Collector.”

Steve Kaufman will be exhibiting his art at Artexpo, 2010. Pier 94 on the Hudson River.

Dates: March 25 thru 28, 2010.
Artexpo Mark Shapiro
[email protected]

Bob Womack
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