“What are the consequences of photorealism?” asks Ben Steele. “What can happen when a painting looks too real?” Not every work from the self-described Art Chameleon features a guest appearance from Van Gogh or Warhol; sometimes he turns his sly sense of humor on an entire genre.
It’s something that we’ve all experienced at one point or another. Is that a painting or is it photograph? Is it live or is it Memorex? Today, you can add, “That has to be digital.” The story goes that artist James Bama once had a collector x-ray a painting because he was certain it was a touched up photograph. If the magic an artist can create with brush and paint can confound even the most ardent art lover, what could be the effect be on your average feline?
In "Curiosity", Steele’s cat does not stalk its prey but sits mesmerized by the possibility of the easy meal before it. To pounce or not to pounce seems to be the question. The painting brings to mind Francis Barraud’s His Master’s Voice, known world-wide as the RCA logo.
"Curiosity" is available as both a Giclée Canvas (21""w x 26h) and Giclée Paper (16"w x 20"h). Bring you cat home with you today.
What would Salvador Dali see if he toured the highways and by-ways of this great country? Ben Steele turned his whimsical mind to that thought and ended up with this “crazy good” insight on just what that surreal vision may be.
“I have a series of works where the Masters’ paintings appear on the barns of rural farms. When the name "Dali Dairy" popped into my head and I said to myself, ‘Oh - that sounds good.’ It was a rather quick leap to populating the farm with these flamingo-legged cows inspired by Dali’s "The Temptation of St. Anthony" rather than painting a Dali image on the barn. I am particularly happy with the mischievous look of the cows, especially the second from the left.”
The "Dali Dairy" original could have sold many times over when it was unveiled at a show in Palm Springs, and was purchased by Florida’s Raymond/James Art Collection. It is interesting to note that Mr. James is currently the president of the Salvador Dali Museum Board of Trustees.
Dali Dairy is a conversation-stopping, truly American work of surreal art. Get your Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Edition Canvas before the cows head for the barn and this crazy-good edition sells out.
The hallmarks of Steele’s art are in full display in Dedicated to da Vinci where art is deconstructed to the very basic of tools. From eight school crayons (manufactured by none other than “Benny Steele Co.”) come the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Steele’s luminescent lighting, acquired through layers of glazing, extends two dimensions into the illusion of three. His wry sense of humor reminds us that art is not only beautiful, it can be fun.
“Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe is the Mona Lisa of modern art,” says Ben Steele. “Its power is in its simplicity. It captures her at the height of her celebrity and everything we admired about her. He knew celebrity was (and still is) the ultimate commodity and recognizable to everyone.” And not only did the 50s belong to Monroe, but they were the golden years of Route 66 and cars with fins as well.
"Merill Inn" exhibits the features that are the hallmarks of Steele’s art: an explosive Pop Art visual; luminescent lighting acquired through layers of glazing; an iconic reference to art history that rather than challenging it, honors it; all delivered with wry sense of humor that reminds us art is not only beautiful, it can be fun. It’s of little surprise that "Southwest Art" selected Steele in their 2005 21 Under 31 issue spotlighting up-and-coming artists.
Another element of "Merill Inn’s" impact is its size and our MasterWork® Fine Art Giclée Canvas at 39"w x 43" is perfect for the select few with that perfect space. It is also available as a Fine Art Giclée Canvas measuring 26"w x 29"h and a Fine Art Giclée Paper at 18"w x 19 7/8"h.
Have a passion for Pop Art? Love a good thrill? Or maybe you are just searching for some excitement slightly off the beaten path? Ben Steele’s playful "Scream Motel" brings together Munch’s "The Scream" and Hitchcock’s "Psycho" in radiant and glorious neon light. Certainly Mr. Hitchcock would never have considered changing the name of the Bates Motel in the classic thriller, but we wouldn’t it past him to sneak a subliminal glimpse of this image in some one’s rearview mirror.
Ben Steele’s "Scream Motel" is not, contrary to popular opinion, the product of an unbalanced mind. Rather it comes from one that endlessly ponders the possible relationships between art history, pop culture, advertising and modern life. Vibrant and striking, this Fine Art Giclèe Canvas says as much about the unique outlook of the person who hangs it as the person who painted it. Enjoy!
What do Pop Art, Vincent Van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Rembrandt, neon gas and Helper, Utah have in common? Artist Ben Steele. Starry Night Hotel embraces them all and expresses his belief that great art and the great artists are more accessible today than ever before. Thanks to our online society, the greater the image, the broader the awareness of it has become. If Pop Art lionized the irony of our commodity driven lifestyle and celebrated the imagery of mass culture. Steele creates paintings that are affirmations of “culture” being popular with the masses.
“The big picture is right here, right before your eyes,” Steele explains. “I’m not trying to hide anything or be heady about it. Art that looks down at you because you can’t understand what it is about is no fun. I’m putting layers in so people can have fun and enjoy the process of discovering them. I would love it if a collector purchased Starry Night Hotel because they were taken with the image and was to only to realize later (spoiler alert!) that ‘ear-ily low prices’ was a reference to Van Gogh cutting off his ear.”
Big picture also describes the scale of Steele’s images. At first glance his sprawling canvases pay homage to his unique mix of Americana and the masters of past and present, but soon the subtleties of his use of light (in this case neon, lamplight and sunset) become apparent. “My process is similar to Rembrandt’s because I build the effect with layers of glazing,” he explains. “I can only imagine how much fun Rembrandt would have had painting neon lights!”
Steele’s "Starry Night Hotel" is available in two formats, a 29w" x 26h" giclée canvas and a 22"w x 20"h giclée paper.