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Kenny Scharf (1958–)

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Kenny Scharf was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1958. He was raised on a steady diet of 1960s television, and exposed to space-age architecture and design. In 1978 he moved to New York, where he and friends Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat became a major force in the contemporary art world by redefining popular art.

Scharf's pop surreal vision, which balances the opposing forces of earth and space, nature and artificiality, figuration and abstraction, quickly earned him the respect of art collectors and museums worldwide. Today, Scharf is considered one of the most important living figurative artists. His own innovative style has been built on the traditions of both pop art and surrealism. These accomplishments have been duly noted in numerous books on modern and contemporary art.

Scharf's art includes references to The Flintstones and The Jetsons cartoons, as they are his archetypes of the pre-historic past and the cosmic future. Scharf's personal universe is the by-product of the miraculous occurrence when these two imaginary worlds collide. His figures represent the resulting animated mutations.

Scharf's work has been shown in major international exhibitions (at Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil; Venice Biennal, Italy; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) and his paintings are included in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, The Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Ludwig Museum, Cologne, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Monterrey Museum of Art, Mexico, and The Sogetsu Museum of Art, Tokyo.
His demanding exhibition schedule includes annual exhibits in the most influential galleries of the United States, Europe and Asia. Since 1995, Scharf's solo museum exhibitions include The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, and the Monterrey Museum of Art, Mexico. In May 1997, Scharf merited the honour of being the first artist, apart from Salvador Dali himself, to have a solo exhibition at the Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg, Florida.

Kenny Scharf has also expanded the role of the contemporary visual artist. Not content merely to exhibit his Technicolor amalgamations of cartoons, space age and jungle fantasies, in museums and prestigious galleries worldwide, Scharf is delivering fine art to new audiences worldwide. Scharf's ambition to merge the art world with the real world has resulted in collaborations with business giants: Absolut Vodka (1987, 1995), Mercedes Benz (1994, 1997), Swatch Watch (1994, 1995), Rosenthal China (1995) and SONY electronics (1997). His textile designs have been included in the fashion collections of designers: Stephen Sprouse (1988), Todd Oldham (1994) and Moschino (1997).

Kenny Scharf's contribution to contemporary art is well documented in art history books, however his greatest gift - beyond his immeasurable talent - is his ability to communicate with a wide variety of audiences. His work captures our imagination by building on the popular imagery of our media culture, located in our collective subconscious.