A Brief Look at Celebrity Art

Celebrity is a word that has been increasingly gaining currency as the norm of modern society. Celebrities are those individuals, institutions or organisations that become overnight celebrities when one of their acts or activities becomes newsworthy. Celebrities can be athletes, musicians, actors, politicians and television personalities. With the internet now being used by almost everyone in the world almost everyone can claim to be a celebrity. For some this is an ego boost, for others who are just plain bored of anonymity celebrity status can provide an outlet for social expression.

The celebrity culture that we see today is a product of modern day commercialism. Celebrity is an attitude that people can purchase, in essence, without ever being consciously aware that they are being sold. Celebrities are a phenomenon of wide public recognition and fame of an individual or organisation due to the immense interest that is given to them by large mass media. Due to the high demand of celebrity magazines, shows, movies and other forms of entertainment celebrity cults have developed.

In the recent past three decades or so there has been an immense amount of celebrity cult associated with the movie industry. The likes of Michael Douglas, Patrick Swayze and Donald Trump have all been instant sensations through their association with pop culture and media. The likes of Professor Jonathan Swift and Jonathan Lipnicki have also made their name as celebrities through their association with the English language and the literature. Similarly, groups like the Cure for Wellbeing and LiveAid have also gained a celebrity reputation due to their association with charity work and awareness raising.

Another group of celebrities that have grown into cultural celebrities through their association with politics are the political pundits. George Bernard Shaw, John Major and David Letterman have all become zeitgeist figures thanks to their articulate political speeches and subsequent popularity with the general public. Similarly, there is a current of pandemic celebrity around at the moment which includes the movie star Sir Sean Connery, the Broadway actor Sir Peter Shyer and the rugby player Brian Smith.

So how do these cultural icons fare in the world of business? Well, some of them have managed to capitalise on their association with culture and celebrity to launch successful businesses while others have failed and even languished in the market place. Some, like John Major and David Bowie have managed to launch successful art and literature projects whereas others such as the Cure and LiveAid have been stagnant in their business ventures. However, there are those that have attained a certain degree of celebrity status in the world of business and politics through their association with iconic figures of the past like John Major and David Bowie who have become household names due to their association with music, theatre and film respectively.

As a case in point, a contemporary artist namedges the late Czech writer Andrzebsky and his association with artists like Picasso and Georges Braque who were later to become prominent members of the avant garde art group that became known as the Situationists. One of the most ironic examples of a celebrity tied to art is that of Prague artist Klement Kopas who, much like Andrzebsky was imprisoned for five years for painting a piece of political propaganda using a hammer and an electric eel. The artist later justified his actions by saying he was exercising his right to freedom of speech. In other words, freedom of speech, freedom of expression is what celebrities are all about they say and do whatever they want and as long as they keep it tasteful and does not cause offense.