Art as Product – A Survey

For romantics like myself, it can be difficult to see an upside to the commercialization of art. But I’m trying something new (namely a brief bout of optimism) and have found that the relationship between art and product is tacitly flattering. The fact of the matter is that we as humans appreciate art, but very seldom have the means to acquire it. Instead, we constantly surround ourselves with images of our favorite pieces, whether they are in calendars or storefronts. With that in mind, here is a small collection of some of the best, the worst, and the most surprising moments of art in consumer culture.

1) Dada Pillow

 This pillow is screen printed by Draga Obradovic in her studio in Como, Italy. The text was derived from Dadaist sound poems which were spoken, sung, and recorded during the mid 20th Century.

2) Louise Bourgeois Tea Towel

In collaboration with Third Drawer Down, Louise Bourgeois printed a limited set of tea towels which are available at the MOCA store. Of the series, the untitled ‘tools’ cloth is a particularly threatening choice of imagery for such an unassuming kitchen item.

3) Yves Saint Laurent – Mondrian Dress

This YSL dress debuted in 1965 to celebrate (or perhaps appropriate) Mondrian’s legacy in the De Stijl movement of the early and mid 20th century.

4) Jeff Koons for Kiehl’s


The most concrete example of art commodification lies in the process by which Jeff Koons creates his sculptures. To be technical, his pieces are made in a literal factory in SoHo where up to 30 assistants are conscripted to build his work for him. With this in mind, it was hardly surprising when Kiehl’s announced a partnership with Koons to design the bottles for it’s “Crème de Corps” collection.

5) USPS Abstract Expressionist Stamps

Just incase you were tired of Lady Liberty, USPS launched a series of 10 stamps which feature works from prominent American Abstract Expressionists.

6) Masterpiece Gallery Skateboard Decks

 Last but not least, Masterpiece Gallery released a series of over 180 skateboards which feature prominent artworks dating back to Raphael’s “St. George and the Dragon” (c. 1505). Vermeer’s “Lacemaker” (c. 1670) is a definite favorite, but other decks featuring works by Hokusai, Cassatt, and Renoir are close seconds.

“Le Moulin de la Galette” (1876) – Renoir

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One thought on “Art as Product – A Survey

  1. Love your survey, and personally think your choices are great examples of the best aspect of good art transformed into product. How wonderful for all of us to have the opportunity to enjoy fine design as part of everyday life. The key is having good art to start with. I would draw the line at the “paint-by-numbers” products — way too much of that around.

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