They are comic book and animated cartoon characters à la Roy Lichtenstein, only skulled and “zombied”; they’re our favourite superheroes accompanied by curious speech bubbles; they’re familiar faces from tv and newspapers, country rulers, actresses and actors, musicians, historic figures; they’re everyday objects and the scenery of the world around us. The artistic oeuvre of DFace, or D*Face, or Dean Stockton, encompasses it all, in a clever satire of modern-day consumerism and image-saturated era, celebrity culture, the fascination and obsession with materialism and fame. The style of DFace is aPOPcalyptic and it represents a unique take on Pop art, through the means of urban and street art.
DFace is without a doubt one of the most important multidisciplinary artists in Britain and the world today, and a man who has contributed to the development of urban art in the United Kingdom in the most direct way possible. Influenced by the New York City subway graffiti culture, meticulously documented by photographer Henry Chalfant, he was attracted to the ideas and notions behind consumption, semiotics and popular culture. He was the owner of London’s first contemporary gallery focused primarily on urban and street art, called The Outside Institute, which in 2005 turned into Stolen Space Gallery. As a prolific connoisseur of the field, he understands its market well, and his works are selling regularly at major auction houses - although he never gave up creating outdoors as well. Between 2008 and 2015, a total of 78 DFace artworks sold at auctions, with a total turnover of $461,069 and a sell-through rate of 59.54%.
For all DFace art pieces sold at auctions make sure to visit his artist page, and for the 10 most expensive ones, we invite you to scroll down!
We start with a piece called Pop Tart, which sees a familiar image of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, where half of the actress’s face is gone, as it often happens with DFace, and there’s a pair of wings coming out of her head - also a DFace trademark. The painting sold for its low estimate of $12,100, 33% less than its high estimate of $18,100, at Bonhams in London in 2010, three years after its creation.
Speaking of Pop Tart, its collage version had much more success at an auction, this time at Bonhams in 2008. Estimated between $2,960 and $4,930, it went for as much as $12,800. Visually, it is a little bit different than the previous version, as Marilyn, for instance, now has scarier teeth and the canvas seems torn in certain places. As this particular image is one of the most recognisable images in Pop art ever, we’d be surprised to see that DFace didn’t treat it his own way.
Ever since he was young, DFace was obsessed with the American dream, so it’s no wonder that many of his works of irony tackle its culture. In this regard, we have American Depress, a satirical take on the American Express credit cards, of which the artist created four different versions. The one we’re looking at is Black and Gold, and it sold for $13,300 at Artcurial Paris in 2013, 17% less than its high estimate of $16,000.
They’re life-size Oscar statues, and two of them ended up in Hollywood in 2010, causing quite a stir - because not many people expected to see what’s “beneath” the famous golden man. It is yet another critic by DFace, this time directed at the film industry and the fact that money triumphs over everything. This is also true in the case of the artist’s earnings as well - the Oscar Zombie sold at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills (oh the irony) for a little over its high estimate - $15,400. For a work this big, I’d say it’s a little underappreciated.
Another one of DFace’s American Depress cards is a little lighter than the one before, having been entitled Diamond. The signature soldier looks even sadder in this version, in spite of his clown red nose or the wings on his helmet. In 2012, the year of the work’s creation, Cornette De Saint Cyr Paris sold this version for $16,500, a little under its high estimate of $19,800. Perhaps now’s the time to ask you: have you recognized DFace’s secret message on this artwork yet?
Oof. Seems like Batman did not have a good night out in the Gotham City a la DFace - he came back with his skin torn up and we can actually see his bones! But he’s still standing tall and proud, while a speech bubble says The so-mighty United States, taunted by a common criminal! The acrylic on canvas reached $21,000 at Digard in Paris in 2014, managing to top its low estimate just about, while staying 23% below the high estimate of $27,100. Better luck next time, Dark Knight!
Because pin-up girls were such an inevitable part of pop culture in the 1960s and beyond, it comes as no surprise that DFace would tackle this topic himself - after all, he’s a kind of a pop artist himself, although he still claims it never got to the point of criticising consumerism - for him, it always stayed within the boundaries of a celebration. Stay Up sees a girl being carried on some kind of a flying ball, which seems to be keeping its tradition and image “up” and away from oblivion. The work went for $23,900 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury London in 2008, but failed to sell at Digard Paris in 2014, for the high estimate of $16,300.
Yes, there’s more of these, only this green version ended up being a lot more successful than the other two, having been sold for almost double its low estimate of $13,100 - $25,500, at Bonhams London in 2008. Besides this one, there are many other versions in different colors, where DFace seems to have followed the logic and ways of doing of the very man he got inspired by for this series - Andy Warhol. Only, the British version is a lot more ironic.
A fan of love scenes straight from comic books, DFace created one of his most famous works to date - the 2011 Kiss of Death, whose hammer price at Piasa Paris in 2013 was $29,500. It was a good price, although its high estimate was 25% more than that, $39,300. The painting shows a couple in an intimate moment; the male seems to have gone completely zombie, while the female will probably get there soon, after he gives her the kiss of death. Very Roy Lichtenstein, only spooky.
Finally, we come to DFace most expensive art piece at auction - the 2011 Drowning in Sorrow painting, which Digard Paris sold for $40,000 in 2014. However, it was still not a success for the artist, as it stayed below its high estimate by 8%. Before that, it reached $28,300 at Cornette De Saint Cyr in Paris, again staying away from the bigger number. But the two characters depicted in the work don’t seem to give a damn about that, as they’re yet another DFace couple enjoying their moment. And we’re sure there’ll be many more of these in the future!