The Fame Monsters
With his vivid, technicolor portraits of Robert Pattinson, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and others, painter Richard Phillips explores the dark recesses of the red carpet moment.
In an age when nearly every major fashion house has a “celebrity services director” pushing photos of starlets and leading men wearing its latest pieces in front of step-and-repeats that further promote the brand, there may be no timelier artist than New York City–based painter Richard Phillips. Over the past decade Phillips has staked out a unique position in the white-hot center of the modern pop-culture nexus where film, music, fine art, and fashion constantly intersect at an endless stream of posh parties and openings. As such, his candy-hued, hyperrealistic portraits (shown at Gagosian Gallery in New York and White Cube in London) have insinuated themselves into a M.A.C campaign and the much-lauded, if fictional, Bass art collection on Gossip Girl.
“It’s probably the most disturbing show I’ve ever done, and there’s no pornography or political emblems in it,” [says] Phillips, referring to two hallmarks of his previous work. “The longer you sit with it, the truly diabolical nature, the real horror of it comes up. The idea of being caught up in ritualized consumption and these stars aren’t offering any alternative to it—they’re reinforcing it.”