man ray

leonora carrington
nusch eluard
frida kahlo
leonor fini
jacqueline lamba breton
rita kernn larsen
lee miller
meret oppenheim
remedios varo

frank auerbach
francis bacon
joseph beuys
jean cocteau
salvador dali
jasper johns
anselm kiefer
jean marais
egon schiele
andy warhol

Mark Kostabi
Upwardly Mobile II


  • 1960
    Born in Los Angeles
  • 1978-81
    California State University, Fullerton

Artist and composer Mark Kostabi might be considered a bit of a prat by many people. Master of self-publicity, he has been around on the New York art scene since the 1980s, a kind of canker on the face of the master of art for self-publicity, Jeff Koons.

But is he any good? Has his notorious stance on using painting assistants worked for him?

Well, to the first question, the work is not that great. It looked poor in the 80s and now it still looks poor but looks even worse because the poorness is dated. And you can't get away from the fact that Giorgio de Chirico got there first and did it infinately better. So some may say that makes Kostabi a poor man's de Chirico but I wouldn't as, in my book, there should be some kind of law preventing anyone putting "Kostabi" in the same sentence as "de Chirico".

To the second question, all the evidence appears to say it hasn't worked. For whatever Kostabi says about it his signature is not worth alot. From time to time, he sells autographed cards and pieces on and, well, the prices say it all. Check them out for yourself.

mark kostabi And at the end of the day, put yourself in this position: you get into an elevator and standing the there are Kostabi and Jeff Koons. You have time just to get one signature. Who is it going to be? Sorry, Mark, I'll come back later for yours. Much later!

But you have to admire the guy for what he has achieved with very little talent. And to have stretched out career now well into its third decade is one of the wonders of the modern world!

He was born in Los Angeles in 1960 to Estonian immigrants. He was raised in Whittier, California.

In 1982 he moved to New York and by 1984 became a figure of the East Village art movement. He appeared in a photograph standing next to Andy Warhol and, well, it was a smart career move.

In 1988 he founded Kostabi World a studio, gallery and office complex known for openly employing painting assistants and idea people. Pity the idea people coudn't have come up with more ideas. Seemed they were rather lazy.

The Mitsukoshi Museum in Tokyo (1992) and the Art Museum of Estonian Tallinn (1998) have held retrospective exhibitions of his work. Big in Japan then.

Kostabi's work is in the storage warehouses of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Groninger Museum in Holland.

In 1988 he painted a mural in the Palazzo dei Priori in Arezzo, Italy and completed a commissioned public sculpture To See Through is Not to See Into, for the city of San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy. Big in Italy as well.

Kostabi's music has been met with mute interest. His first CD, I Did It Steinway, of solo piano music composed and performed by himself, was released in 1998. In May 2005, had a sales ranking of 109,315 in Music.

Kostabi has designed album covers (Guns 'N' Roses' Use Your Illusion, Ramones' Adios Amigos) and numerous products including a Swatch watch, limited-edition vases, and computer accessories. But the album covers were a long time ago and you can't but help get the impression that he is yesterday's man.

He resides in New York and Rome, Italy.


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biography | gallery | picasso
leonora carrington | nusch eluard
frida kahlo | leonor fini
rita kernn larsen | lee miller
meret oppenheim | remedios varo


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Mark Kostabi Archives.