Andy Warhol is widely regarded as the archetype of the relationship between artistic expression and pop culture. The artist and filmmaker led an art movement, known as pop art, which flourished in the 1960s, but it was his bohemian lifestyle and his exquisite coterie of celebrity friends that shaped society during that fascinating period. Now, in a post-pandemic world, the opportunity for a revival of a vibrant art scene has never been bigger.
Architect and painter Tiago Azevedo, who has been credited as one of current leading figures of pop-surrealism, is one of those artists whose influence goes beyond their artworks. Azevedo lives in New York City and he is a regular guest at many celebrity sighting spots on the Upper East Side and Midtown Manhattan. In the beginning of the year, he launched a YouTube series with art dealer and stylist José Castelo Branco. In the first episode of their new YouTube series, Azevedo and Castelo Branco discuss what made artists like Warhol and Picasso so successful, and how relevant the work of art dealers and curators still is. In the second one, they pivot away from art and discuss etiquette rules, educating the viewers on how to set a formal dinner table, and what conversation topics to avoid with guests.
Castelo Branco and his wife, jewelry designer pioneer Betty Grafstein, are prominent figures in New York City’s high society. Last December, the couple celebrated their 25th anniversary in the biggest way with a Studio 54-style party. The celebration drew its quota of celebrities and art collectors. The feel was fun but opulent, to which Azevedo’s new collection of original oil paintings, exquisitely framed in gold, certainly contributed. Azevedo and Castelo Branco’s friendship reminisces the one of Andy Warhol and designer Halston. The two American icons were the ringleaders of the NYC social scene in the 60s and 70s, and, while they had very different personalities, both shared a groundbreaking approach to art, which is still to this day imprinted in contemporary culture.
Like Warhol, Tiago Azevedo has created portraits of many A-list celebrities, such as Dolly Parton, Madonna, and Kris Jenner. The architect and pop-surrealist painter has also illustrated a book with the original Brothers Grimm fairy tales. The pop-surrealism, or lowbrow, movement has had a boom on social media since the beginning of the pandemic. Social isolation, and the shutdown of galleries and museums, led artists to become exceptionally savvy on social media; and the figurative aspect of pop-surrealism, which draws elements from pop culture, made it one of the most celebrated styles on social media platforms like Instagram. In a time where access to an artist’s life sparks more interest than their artworks as standalone pieces, it is not surprising that captivating and social creatures like Tiago Azevedo are making art and pop culture converge again in the post-Covid world.