ANIMAL’s new feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their idea sketch next to a finished piece. This week, the very recognizable painter Mark Kostabi, self-proclaimed “Con Artist” whose rep exploded in ’80s East Village for a record number of exhibitions and for his open employment of assistants who then completed most and sometimes all of his paintings, save for the signature.
His art is instantly recognizable. His personality is larger than life. He’s currently thriving in Rome and says hello.
I use many variations on my method of producing art. Sometimes I face the canvas all alone, with my thoughts, and my feelings pour out. Other times, many other times, I make a drawing in pencil, while I’m in Rome, and send it to my assistants in New York and they execute the work in oil on canvas. I usually indicate corrections via e-mail.
Other times, also frequently, I give general written indications to my idea people, currently Mike Cockrill and Cliff Leigh, who live in, or near, New York, and they make the drawing, using my style, featuring my signature Kostabi faceless figure.
In the case of this work, which I titled: OKAY I’M HERE, NOW WHAT?, the drawing was created physically by Mike Cockrill, including variations on previous ideas that I made, inspired by both Mondrian in general, and Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, in particular and the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea.
My painting assistant, Jamie Holder, executed the painting. I sent e-mail corrections. He fixed it. I titled it personally, which is not the current usual way I title my paintings.
Usually they are titled by celebrities and art critics on my TV show, The Kostabi Show, where celebrity contestants compete to title my paintings for cash awards.