Affordable Art from Some of the World’s Most Famous Artists


Ever dreamed of owning your very own Richard Prince? Or your own work of irreverent detritus by a Young British Artist? Dream on. They are for the most part priced astronomically out of reach for most people. On the other hand, if you take your dream down a notch, you can. The YBAs, as well as some other famed artists, have engaged at one time or another in creating unique artist’s editions and regular consumer items within a reasonably-priced range that you can hang on your wall, if you want, or just use and abuse to your heart’s content. Whether created individually or in collaboration with other artists and designers, here is a sampling of some of our favorite artist editions and objects by artists we love, and/or love to hate.

1. Richard Prince

Richard Prince, Overseas Nurse. 2002. © Richard Prince. Photo courtesy of Artnet

This work holds the current record for the highest price paid at auction for a painting by Richard Prince. It sold for £4,241,250 ($8,467,258) at Sotheby’s London in July 2008 before the market tanked. But in May 2010, Prince’s Nurse in Hollywood No. 4 sold at a Phillips de Pury auction for $6.5 million. So, we’re not worried about Prince’s staying power.

Richard Prince. $100. “Skull Bunny” paper bags. © Richard Prince.

These heavy paper bags — printed with Richard Prince’s dark take on the Playboy bunny, aka “skull bunny” — were created for Learn to Read Art: An Exhibition of Artists’ Books and Multiples from the Permanent Collection of Art Metropole, an exhibition that was organized in 1991 by Printed Matter and Art Metropole and presented at Art Basel. On the back of each bag, which are about half the length of a skateboard, it says “Printed Matter + Art Metropole” and “Image: Richard Prince.” While these were originally printed for the exhibition, about one week ago, a set of these out-of-print bags turned up and was delivered (by whom, we can’t say, because its provenance could not be disclosed to us) to Printed Matter in New York. This is some good dire loot that would darken up any wall for way less than Overseas Nurse. And buying one of these, you’ll be supporting one of our favorite art organizations, Printed Matter.

2. Tauba Auerbach

Tauba Auerbach, Untitled (Fold), 2010. Acrylic on canvas. 30 x 24 x 1 1/2 inches. © Tauba Auerbach. Image courtesy of The Kitchen

While Auerbach‘s work rarely comes up for auction, at The Kitchen Benefit in November 2010, this painting, which retailed at $8,000, sold for over five times that value. A series of works on paper sold for $17,500 at a Phillips de Pury auction earlier that month.

Tauba Auerbach, One Deck of Cards. $175. © Tauba Auerbach. Available at Printed Matter.

In December 2010, the rising star made news when Paula Cooper Gallery in New York took her on. After Deitch Projects closed, Auerbach — who was included in the Whitney Bienniale and Greater New York exhibits, and named “new artist of the Year” at Rob Pruitt’s 2010 Art Awards — was hotly pursued and there was much speculation about where the concept-driven artist would go. Paula Cooper Gallery is planning a solo show for Auerbach in 2012. One Deck of Cards bears her hallmark penchant for optical effects and demonstrates your prescience with respect to artists on the up-and-up.

3. Olaf Breuning

Olaf Breuning, Home II (still), 2007. Shown at the Whitney Bienniale 2008. © Olaf Breuning. Courtesy Artnet

Olaf Breuning’s film Home II caused a stir at the Whitney Bienniale in 2008. The film follows an exuberant, erratic and overtly ignorant “traveler” as he visits various locations around the world — including Tokyo and Papua New Guinea. What begins as straightforward reality soon slips uncomfortably into fiction. In 2008, Breuning had his third solo show at Metro Pictures and sold his piece Smoke Bombs for $15,000. In addition to Metro Pictures, Breuning works with six galleries world-wide. His work — photographs, installations, film, drawings and sculpture — often explores personal identity in a primal context and reflects a pop-culture and internet-obsessed generation with a generous helping of humor.

We like his brainy, witty approach so much we want to be part of any of his art-making, affordably. That’s why we attended Breuning’s exhibit for MoMA PS1’s MOVE! show in October 2010, where he collaborated with Cynthia Rowley in the creation of a series of theatrical presentations — he poured gold and white paint over live models in denim Cynthia Rowley dresses. The one-of-a-kind dresses were then sold at the Gagosian Gallery shop. They go for $600, which — while not exactly cheap — is not bad for a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art.

4. Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara, Fuck 2002. © Yoshitomo Nara. Image courtesy of Christie’s

This deceptively simple painting by Yoshitomo Nara was sold at auction in London in June 2008 for a dazzling $672,139.

Yoshotomo Nara, Too Young to Die Ashtray. $70.

This image is taken from a painting by Nara entitled Too Young To Die (2001). As with much of Nara’s work, it asks us to identify with a particularly youthful brand of defiance. He’s part of a generation of young Japanese artists inspired by Japanese popular culture, such as manga. His work has been exhibited at many museums, including the MCA and is represented by Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. Take this home and embrace mortality.

5. Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons, Walking Chanel Purse. Cibachrome print. 2005. © Laurie Simmons. Image courtesy of Phillips de Pury

This print sold for $80,000 at a Phillips de Pury auction in 2005.

Laurie Simmons Tea Cup and Saucer Set. $150.

These tea cups come in an edition of 500 from Cereal Art Multiples.

6. Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami, Miss ko². Oil paint, acrylic, synthetic resin, fiberglass and iron. 1997 © Takashi Murakami

This piece sold for $6.8 million at a Phillips de Pury auction in November 2010.

While Murakami could be considered flashy, and his saturation of the market with his mass-produced works force on us the equivalence of art and commerce to an extent that’s offensive to good taste, we can’t deny that — because he’s everywhere — owning a Murakami demonstrates distinction to many more people than owning most other works of art. What better way to flaunt your in-the-know-ness than with this “Flowerball,” designed with Murakami’s (very) popular flower motif and manufactured by a world leading ball maker, the Molten, which makes the official soccer balls of A.C. Parma. At $400, this is a good and stylish way to get your frustrations out on the art world (the members of which will never let you in, really, unless you can own the real thing, whether or not art equals commerce). And you’ll still be above those who can’t even afford the ball. But use this with caution. If you’re called a pansy on the playing field, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

7. Ari Marcopoulos

Ari Marcopoulos, Andy Warhol. New York. 1981. © Ari Marcopoulos

Ari Marcopoulos was an assistant to Andy Warhol in the ’80s and began taking pictures of Andy as well as other luminaries of punk, hip hop and graffiti, including Jean Michel Basquiat, LL Cool J, and the Beastie Boys. It wasn’t long before Marcopoulos was in with the skaters and bikers of the Brooklyn Banks, immortalized in Harmony Korine’s Kids.

Ari Marcopoulos, Cairo, Sonoma [skateboard] 2006 @ Ari Marcopoulos. $150. Available at Printed Matter.

Thus, it’s apropos that he should have as his art object, a skateboard deck with an image of his son, one of his favored subjects. While Marcopoulos has been in the Whitney Biennial 2010, his art seems as fitting when part of the urban landscape as it is when documenting it. Take this art off the wall, and get into some grinds.

8. Jack Pierson

Jack Pierson, Lust. Metal and plastic. 1996. © Jack Pierson.

This piece by American artist Jack Pierson was sold at $352,000 in November 2006 at a Phillips de Pury auction.

You can own this Youth Plate in Adora porcelain by Jack Pierson, signed and numbered in an edition of 500. At $300 a pop at the New Museum, it’s a great way to enjoy an indulgent meal with a surprise waiting for those who finish all their peas.

9. Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin, I Promise to Love You. Clear red neon. 2007. © Tracey Emin

This work, the third in an edition of three, was sold at Sotheby’s for $220,000 on Valentine’s Day in 2008.

Tracey Emin, It’s the Way We Think. Appliqué blanket. 2004. © Tracey Emin. Image courtesy of Major Art Foundation

This piece was sold at a Christie’s auction in February 2010 for $247,197.

Tracey Emin, one of the YBAs (short for Young British Artist, or a loosely defined group of British artists who began showing together in the late ’80s and many of whom graduated from Goldsmiths and were supported and collected by Charles Saatchi). Like fellow YBAs Damien Hirst, and Jake and Dinos Chapman, Emin is known for her startlingly personal work, which includes Everyone I Have Ever Slept with 1963 – 1995 — an applique tent in which she embroidered the names of all the people she had slept with; My Bed, which was literally a display of her disheveled bed with its concomitant effluvia including dirty underwear, and condoms; and The History of Painting, a piece that used tampons, pregnancy tests, blood and vitrines. But if her more recent work in red neon, which has garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, has gotten more antiseptic, it still carries her hallmark self-reveal.

Emin Beach Towel. By Works on Whatever. 2011. $95. Sold at The Standard Hotel

With Tracey Emin’s beach towel, you can take Emin’s emotional outpourings to the beach for under a hundred bucks. Bring your own condoms.

10. Tim Noble and Sue Webster

Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Toxic Schizophrenia, 2007. Medium-colored ufo reflector caps, lamps and holders, 6mm foamex, vinyl and aerosol paint. 1997. © Tim Noble and Sue Webster. Image courtesy of Saatchi Gallery

In 2007, this piece by the art duo of Noble & Webster, also part of the YBA group with Tracey Emin, went for £300,000 (roughly $485,130) to art dealer Larry Gagosian at a Sotheby’s auction. Their flashy, fun lamp-lit works, reminiscent of the spirit of Warhol, and which have titles like “Golden Showers,” “Piss Off,” “Excessive Sensual Indulgence,” “Black Magic,” and “$” sell frequently in the six figures at auctions internationally and investigate themes of impermanence and immortality.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Tattoo Love. $5. Tattoo sheet comes with three different designs. Sold at Gagosian Gallery.

Why shell out all that cash — that you’ve been saving under your mattress for a large sculpture of glowing lights — when you can wear a Noble & Webster on your sleeve and explore impatience and immortality wherever you go? Best yet, by the time you’re sick of it, it’s already gone.

11. Matthew Higgs and Martin Creed

Martin Creed. Work No. 275: Small Things. Soft white neon lights. 2001 © Martin Creed. Image courtesy of Christie’s. This piece sold at Christie’s in February 2007 for $78,000.

The Thing Issue 13 — Matthew Higgs and Martin Creed. $60. Available from The Thing. This issue of this object-based quarterly is a 12-inch vinyl 120 gram picture disk with Mathew Higgs on one side and Martin Creed on the other. The record holds one track by Martin Creed called ‘My Advice’ with words and music by Martin Creed.

We’re delighted by this collaboration between Matthew Higgs and Martin Creed, which is not their first. Higgs, artist and curator, is maybe best known in the contemporary art world for his press, Imprint 93, publishing a series of artist editions including work by Elizabeth Peyton, Chris Ofili and Martin Creed among many others and was known for his focus on artists other than the YBAs. He was listed #43 in Art Reviews 2010 Power 100 for his ambitious curatorial portfolio. Martin Creed is a conceptual artist from Glasgow who picked up the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No. 227: The Lights Going On and Off, which was an empty room where the lights went on and off periodically. This collaboration between the two is a unique art object that would make a great addition to your vinyl collection. And we hear next issue of The Thing features James Franco, with whom the publication is also doing a limited edition project this summer, which will be 100 custom made Italian switchblades being pre-sold at $400. Whether or not James Franco is an “artist” is up for debate, but we can’t wait to do a little knife throwing.