Started 20 years ago, Love Paintings was a moderately successful business in which I sold collectible art gifts. Angel funding first provided me with start-up money. All the gifts contained a cartoonish, banal heart symbol, a kind that’s used in countless commercial contexts. Small paintings and sculptural objects were sold or presented as awards. For four years I engaged with gift and collectible industry experts, art directors, and copyrighters. I sold the project works to galleries, hospitals, charities, vendors, gift-givers, art collectors, and celebrities.
The heart graphic, a sort of proto-emoji, was set against various backgrounds, including dogs, flowers, and geometric shapes. The business was imagined as a performative extension of my practice—à la Andy Warhol, or Martin Kippenberger—but I realized that it was just a real business, for real clients, who got real joy out of the product. By 2001 I felt the goals of the project were met. Love Paintings was put on hiatus waiting for the appropriate moment to reemerge.
With this work today, I’m exploring the role of pop art in socioeconomic contexts.
“Love Paintings” was inspired in part by my relationship with curator Henry Geldzahler, who I served as an assistant to in the 1980s. During that time, I met Isamu Noguchi, who also influenced my interest in organic forms and the intersection of decoration, design, and contemporary art. I see “Love Paintings” as a monument as metaphor to the commercial creative practices of many contemporary artists, who often must take on such work in order to survive in capitalist society. Ultimately, however, it is about the psychology of kitschy collectibles and graphics, and why people seek them out as representations of our deepest, most profound emotions.