Platform Sells Artists’ Pieces You Won’t Find at Art Basel

Josh Smith, whose figurative paintings feature skeletons, devils, and their macabre ilk, is no stranger to artist collaborations. He has made painterly fleece jackets for Givenchy, and Grim Reaper T-shirts for Supreme.

Such projects don’t always offer Mr. Smith, 47, opportunities to acquire new skills, but for a recent one he explored an unfamiliar medium: jewelry. With guidance from the jeweler Will Shott, Mr. Smith made a selection of silver and gold pendants, batlike creatures, winged ghosts, twigs and dragons, each bearing the stamp of his kinky imagination.

“I hope that people will realize that I can make things beside paintings,” Mr. Smith said, adding that his line of jewelry “is a way to share a new facet of my creativity.”

He is selling the items on Platform, a website created in 2021 by the mega-gallery David Zwirner, which at first offered artworks and fine-art prints. Last year, it began carrying artist-designed products by Raymond Pettibon, Katherine Bernhardt and others represented by Mr. Zwirner’s namesake gallery.

The items, sold in limited quantities, are aimed at fans with pockets just deep enough to part with, say, $375 for one of Mr. Smith’s twig-like silver pendants; $200 for a jigsaw puzzle by the painter Dana Schutz; or $500 for a signed vegan-leather yoga mat with drawings by the artist-slash-cartoonist Robert Crumb, or R. Crumb, as he is known. (Artists receive a percentage of their products’ sales.)

Lucas Zwirner, 32, a Platform founder and an heir to his father’s gallery, described the products as “idiosyncratic items at prices younger people can afford.”

Works of art or high-end trinkets, as some carp, the products represent an art-world version of Tom Ford lipstick or Gucci shades — items marketed as relatively affordable alternatives to their makers’ other pieces. But mining the fame of blue-chip artists to market branded commodities is hardly unique to the Zwirners.

A holiday gift guide from the Hauser & Wirth gallery features collectibles including an “Anxious Men” T-shirt by Rashid Johnson ($50); cashmere blankets by Philip Guston (starting at $650); and a set of skateboard decks by Henry Taylor called “Cicely and Miles Visit the Obamas” ($1,250).

The Gagosian Gallery shop’s list of gift ideas includes a set of Roy Lichtenstein dinnerware ($850); a Takashi Murakami skateboard deck ($225), and several T-shirts by Derrick Adams ($60).

The sisters of Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died in 1988, recently put a fast-fashion spin on the artist’s works, selling flips flops, bourbon, doormats and scented candles stamped with his signature imagery.

Walter Robinson, 73, a painter and an art writer in New York, is long familiar with the concept. “Some artists like making multiples and do it for the fun of it mostly,” he said, referring to the practice of making pieces other than traditional artworks at more affordable prices. “Some items were made at least a little as a kind of protest against the high-end commercial market.”

Bettina Huang, Platform’s chief executive officer, said that when developing products with artists for the website — like a forthcoming selection of jewelry by the painter Elizabeth Peyton — originality is the focus. “This is not an attempt to take a famous image, like a Warhol screen print, and slap it onto something,” Ms. Huang, 39, said. “The idea is to have the artist adapt or create something that didn’t exist before.”

As Lucas Zwirner put it, “We are letting the artist create the things they want to create.”

Rose Wylie, 89, a British painter who more than a decade ago collaborated on a fashion line with Sienna Miller, recently made a $200 hooded sweatshirt for Platform. Marlene Zwirner, 31, Platform’s creative director and Mr. Zwirner’s daughter, recalled suggesting to the artist that she create something “authentic, cool and wearable.”

Ms. Wylie, who is known for loose, spontaneous-looking paintings that are often deceptively childlike, made what she called “an ugly hoodie.” It was screen printed with an X-raylike drawing of a cat, an eerie variation on one of her signature images. The sweatshirts, 150 of which were released in April, have since sold out.

“When I was an art student, having your drawing on a waste paper basket, well you couldn’t go lower,” Ms. Wylie said, adding that the internet has modified the way she and other people think about artist collaborations.

“Now that we’re showing pictures on the web,” she said, “that’s completely changed.”

“If a drawing is good,” she added, “you can show it on anything.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *