One of the most infamous British street artists working today, Endless is known for works that portray a neutral homage to the key elements of society today, covering off aspects such as brand worship, advertising, consumerism and celebrity culture. The anonymous artist has become the first street artist to be featured in one of the world's most respected art museums, the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.
In an event at the Vasari Auditorium attended by museum director Eike Schmidt and art critic Pasquale Lettieri, Endless donated a work that depicts the artist alongside the iconic art duo, Gilbert & George, in their studio.This 100 x 100 cm portrait piece comments on advertising and consumer culture.
A London-based street artist, Endless is known for bold and distinctive paintings tell a creative story of the world he sees around him. Initially using London streets as his canvas, he began making studio works that continue to portray an artistic representation of brand worship, advertising, consumerism and celebrity culture.
Endless' work allows the viewer to explore the variety of hidden messages and interact with the playful and alluring opulent aesthetic. Among his most famous series is the Deities collection, a series of works showcasing the contrast between old and modern-day symbols of worship. These often feature the logo "CHAPEL", which is his own take on the iconic Chanel No5 perfume.
The featured self-portrait brings together the artist and the famed artist duo Gilbert & George. It was based on the original photo, directed by Endless and taken by London-based photographer Noel Shelley, that features the artist duo embracing in on of their signature living sculpture poses, whilst Endless reads a copy of a popular culture magazine, maintaining his anonymity by hiding his face. It has been signed by both Gilbert & George and Endless.
On the magazine's cover, there is the artist's most popular artwork Crotch Grab, a remake of the 1990’s Calvin Klein and Mark Wahlberg advert, a poignant comment on the influence branding and advertising has in shaping culture. This image was featured by Gilbert & George in their Utopian Pictures collection in 2015.
Although the piece strays from the Renaissance canon for which the Uffizi is renowned, Eike Schmidt, Director of the Uffizi, described it as "an original fusion between punk and pop, which in the self-portrait extends to conceptual art."
Observing the historical collections of the Uffizi, how the Medici Grand Dukes were eager to grab the latest news - even the most daring - produced on the artistic scene, I think today they would be happy to see the work of Endless enter the collections that they have with such care started and increased, centuries ago.
Endless said it was an honor to have his work featured at the renowned art museum.
Artists which come from a street art background are rarely recognized within more prestigious museums, particularly those with such historical and cultural significance. Street-art, after all, is art in itself and does contain historical significance for our era and everyday people that live and move around it. I am proud of this achievement and hope museum visitors will take interest in this new genre of artwork.
Endless has been also commissioned a mural in Cortina on the occasion of the 2021 Alpine World Ski Championship taking place right now in Italy. In recognition of the sports significance, the artist created a mural titled Powder to the People which references an iconic magazine cover from 1951, featuring a photo of a female skier. The artist has added a special touch to his artwork, having adorned the ski subject’s jacket with his unique branded print.
Featured image: Cristian Contini, Fulvio Granocchia, Endless, Eike Schmidt at Uffizi Galleries. Courtesy Cris Contini Contemporary.