In March 2021, Christie’s auction house sold Winston Churchill‘s landscape painting Koutoubia Mosque Tower for £8.2m. The painting was put up for auction by actress Angelina Jolie. The forecast was 2.5 million pounds, so the final price of 8.2 million pounds was a record for the work of the Prime Minister.
As one would expect, the story was rather surprising: few people knew that the politician began to draw at the age of 40 to get rid of the anxiety caused by career failures.
In total, Churchill painted about 550 works. However, he did not like to show his works, and in 1947, when the president of the Royal Academy of Arts persuaded him to exhibit two works during the annual summer exhibition, Sir Winston gave them under the pseudonym David Winter.
Today, most of the artworks by celebrity, we mean Winston Churchill’s paintings, are in private collections.
Winston Churchill is not the only artistic celebrity. Another British public figure whose landscape work is known outside of his homeland is Prince Charles. He began to draw at school at the suggestion of an art teacher.
For the first time, artworks by celebrity saw the light in 1977 at an exhibition at Windsor Castle. The exhibition also showed works by Queen Victoria and the Duke of Edinburgh. The prince’s aesthetic is clearly limited: only watercolors and only landscapes, mountains, streams, and the surroundings of Balmoral Castle.
Limited edition lithographs of watercolors by the Prince of Wales signed by the artist are on display at the Belgravia Gallery in London and are selling for £5,000-10,000. Every year, the prince earns about 200,000 pounds from the sale of copies of works, which go to charity. At the same time, Charles calls himself a “humble lover.”
Painting is rather an exception among politicians. But actors, directors, and musicians are quite the usual artistic celebrities.
Among the artists celebrities are:
- Tim Burton;
- Johnny Depp;
- Michael Jackson;
- Macaulay Culkin;
- Jim Carrey;
- Lucy Liu;
- Paul McCartney;
- Freddie Mercury;
- Marilyn Monroe;
- Marilyn Manson;
- Sylvester Stallone;
- Steven Tyler;
- Robbie Williams;
- James Franco.
However, it cannot be said that art critics unanimously admire paintings of celebrities. But there are celebrities whom critics and galleries still favor.
Pierce Brosnan is among them. He started painting in 1987. Then, his first wife was diagnosed with cancer. Unlike other artistic celebrities who often paint for themselves and friends, Brosnan, by his own admission, wants to sell his paintings for charity.
He created 150 silk-screened prints for the charity. The cheapest category of prints is sold at seasons.la for $5,000 each. And in 2018, Brosnan’s portrait of Bob Dylan raised $1.4 million at the amfAR evening in Cannes. It was bought by Ukrainian billionaire Marina Acton. The starting price of the work was $30,000.
Another one of commercially successful artistic celebrities is Ronnie Wood, a British musician, and member of The Rolling Stones and The Faces. In 2008, when Wood once again left the next rehab, where he was treated for alcohol addiction, Damien Hirst dropped by to visit him: he brought canvases, paints, and brushes with him. And since then, there’s been a studio on the top floor of Ronnie’s house.
Wood’s work includes sketches from concerts, images of bandmates, horses, landscapes, and abstract compositions. Prices for limited prints signed by the author range from £500 to £1,500. If we talk about the originals, then the image of the first horse of the musician Alhea went for 40,000 pounds, and the “Abstract Rhinoceros” – for sixty. And the Clintons do collect his paintings.
The unsurpassed Janis Joplin could also boast of original drawings. The singer admitted that the love of her life is fashion and art, and she took up music to pay for drawing materials. Janice’s work includes sketches of people in different situations and drawings on topics such as a crucifix, a seated man, a woman leaning over, a scarecrow, and Halloween. Today, prints of her work are freely available online with family permission.