What were you doing at the age of 11?
You were probably getting ready for school, figuring out puberty and begging your parents for money. When Bernard Solco, a modern-day artistic icon, was 11 years old he sold a series of 12 paintings of monkeys to a family friend for the equivalent of $21,361.32 in today’s money. Since then, the self-taught artist, now 56, has immortalized New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and politician Rudy Giuliani in his artwork.
But Solco may be most revered for being the first artist to take QR codes and bar codes from innocuous labeling on Kellogg’s cereal boxes to glossy pieces of high art worth tens of thousands of dollars each, displayed in New York City’s Soho galleries. He accomplished this in his “American Product Series” (1996) and “Symbology’ series (2000) because he once saw the beauty in technology, but now, he mostly sees tech as a negative thing in the art world.
ONE37pm spoke with Solco about how Instagram is hurting art galleries, the humility his portraits inspired out of powerful people and how the art world ran before the internet changed everything.