Photographs & Information from Burton Morris Studios | All Artwork © Burton Morris Studios 2018
Pittsburgh native and internationally recognized pop artist, Burton Morris, first became known across America as the artist who provided a constant colorful presence with his bold, energetic coffee cup painting hanging on the set of the NBC television sitcom, “Friends,” in the mid 1990’s. Since then, Morris is arguably one of the most sought-after pop artists by companies and institutions looking for a fresh take on corporate culture.
Over the years, Morris has put his own spin on some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Coca Cola, Rolex, Sony, Perrier, Kellogg’s, Ford, Chanel, and Shake Shack – to name a few. He also created signature artwork for events including the 76th Annual Academy Awards, the 2006 MLB All-Star Game, the 38th Montreal Jazz Festival, the 2016 USGA U.S. Open, the FIFA World Cup and The United States Olympic Team. Morris’ artwork is featured in museums and galleries worldwide, hanging in the trend-setting collections, of celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Kanye West, Oprah Winfrey, Stan Lee, Tommy Hilfiger, and many others.
In his latest art series titled, “Painting Playboy,” Morris revisits the deep roots of Playboy’s past artist collaborations by exploring one of the most iconic and recognizable images beyond any of the magazine’s famous pictorials; the Playboy Bunny logo. Several years in the making, the collection consists of, in part, 64 separate works, one for each year since 1953, the year Hugh M. Hefner founded the iconic American brand. Art has been central to the spirit of Playboy magazine ever since Hugh Hefner launched it from his kitchen table in Chicago.
A cartoonist himself, Hefner sought the world’s most influential artists to help form an identity for his magazine. Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, LeRoy Neiman, Tom Wesselmann, Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist, and Keith Haring are just a handful of the famous artists who contributed their fun, colorful, and provocative imagery to Playboy. Now, sixty-four years after Hugh Hefner created a world-wide source of influence on pop culture and art, his son Cooper Hefner has taken on the task of continuing Playboy’s creative synergy beyond the magazine and into the world of fine art.
PLAYBOY & POP ART : A HISTORY
Hugh Hefner wanted to create a magazine that was modern and visually arresting. He hired Chicago artist and designer, Art Paul, to be the magazine’s first art director. Paul created the innovative Playboy Rabbit Head logo, along with helping to brand the visual identity of the magazine. Paul famously asked fine artists to create illustrations for the magazine, which helped cement its relationship with the art world. Soon after Hefner published the first issue, another cultural juggernaut began to emerge in the United States: Pop Art. As both the magazine and the movement evolved, it was perhaps inevitable that their paths would cross. “America’s prince of pop”— as Playboy christened Andy Warho l — had a nearly 30-year relationship with the magazine.
Playboy has more than 5,000 works of commissioned art in the Playboy Art Collection, including original paintings, drawings, watercolors, and sculptures. The vast majority of these artworks appeared in Playboy magazine.
PAINTING PLAYBOY: THE COLLECTION
The Painting Playboy icon collection of artwork consists of 64 unique silk screen and spray paint on canvases highlighting the classic rabbit head logo celebrating 64 years of Playboy. Each painiting is 16×12”, signed and numbered starting with the year of the first magazine that was published in 1963. The work debuted in New York City and will be traveling to Europe and Asia.
“My series, ‘Painting Playboy,’ is an opportunity to be a part of the historic relationship between Playboy and pop art. The magazine was full of art. The pop art movement really inspired me, and Playboy embraced artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Tom Wesselmann, Alberto Vargas, LeRoy Neiman, and Peter Max. When I think about how Playboy has fostered generations of great artists — I mean, incredible artists — and someone like me, who was just begging to see more art, it really was a great inspiration.” — Burton Morris