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Mark Kostabi
(1960)

Kostabi is most known for his paintings of faceless figures which often comment on contemporary political, social and psychological issues, and which have visual stylistic roots in the work of Giorgio de Chirico and Fernand Léger.
Beyond traditional art world exposure, Kostabi has designed album covers for Guns N’ Roses (Use Your Illusion) and The Ramones (¡Adios Amigos!), Seether (Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray), Jimmy Scott (Holding Back The Years), Glint (Sound in Silence), RK: Roman Klun (Kingsway), Psychotica (Espina) and numerous products including a Swatch watch, Alessi vases, Rosenthal espresso cups, Ritzenhoff milk glasses, and a Giro d’Italia pink jersey.

Kostabi is also known for his many collaborations with other artists including Enzo Cucchi, Arman, Howard Finster, Tadanori Yokoo, Enrico Baj and Paul Kostabi.

His work was published on the cover of the book East Village ’85 published by Pelham Press and his paintings were included prominently in numerous East Village shows in museums and galleries internationally. Matteo Editore published a book on Kostabi titled Mark Kostabi and the East Village scene 1983–1987 written by Baird Jones. During the mid-1980s he developed a media persona by publishing self-interviews which commented on the commodification of contemporary art, which led to theories on Kostabi’s cultural relevance in various sociology books including “Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality” by Neal Gabler and “Culture or Trash?: A Provocative View of Contemporary Painting, Sculpture, and Other Costly Commodities” by James Gardner.

In 1986, Kostabi designed the Bloomingdales shopping bag. By 1987 his works were widely exhibited in New York galleries and throughout the United States, in Japan, Germany and Australia.

In 1988, inspiring extensive international press coverage, he founded Kostabi World, his large New York studio known for openly employing numerous painting assistants and idea people. In 1996 he began dividing his time between New York and Rome and consequently his work’s already strong presence in the Italian art scene became much more prominent. The influential Italian critic and curator Achille Bonito Oliva, included Kostabi in several major exhibitions including at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte di Roma. The critic, curator and TV personality, Vittorio Sgarbi, curated a 150 painting Kostabi show at the Chiostro del Bramante in Rome in 2006.

His permanent public works include a mural in Palazzo dei Priori in Arezzo, Italy, a large bronze sculpture in the central square of San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy, a bronze portrait of Pope John Paul II in Velletri, Italy and a large bronze sculpture, “Eternal Embrace,” in Largo Villa Glori in Terni, Italy.

In Kostabi’s works there is an extensive range of citation and self-citation, which are typically postmodern techniques.

Exhibitions

Retrospective exhibitions of Kostabi’s paintings have been held at the Mitsukoshi Museum in Tokyo (1992) and the Art Museum of Estonia in Tallinn (1998). Kostabi’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery in Washington D.C., the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands.

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