Hattie Turner recently sought out the opportunity to speak with Pop Artist Laurence de Valmy prior to her participation in Paddle8’s upcoming Art on a Postcard auction, benefitting the Hepatitis C Trust. In this exclusive interview, de Valmy discusses her practice, issues relating to appropriation in art and the role of social media in the development of artists’ careers in the Twenty-First Century.
For more information on Paddle8’s Art on a Postcard benefit auction click here
An Interview with Laurence de Valmy, Pop Artist.
Laurence de Valmy, French-born Pop artist, lives and works in Philadelphia. Her subject matter focuses on the relationship between Instagram and the art world, depicted in her fictional Instagram POST series of key artists in Art History. De Valmy went to University but unusually studied Economics, her first career being in business and her artcreated in parallel. In 2003, she took a year off work and attended art history classes in Michigan whilst working in a studio with other artists.
In 2017, de Valmy was awarded an Artist Residency by the ESKFF at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey, for her work on the POSTseries. Her work is now featured in the collection of Hubert Burda, the Abrishamchi Family Collection and the Eileen Kaminsky Foundation.
De Valmy’s work is a triumph in replication, a novel way of portraying and educating the viewer in art history. The skill and technique delivered in each piece is unarguably impressive. She started off thePOST series by painting each element of the artwork, including text, but it didn’t give the perfectly printed look she was after. Instead de Valmy chose to print the text, creating mixed media works. ‘Sometimes I get questions in exhibitions of people wondering if the image is printed too’, she says, though she takes it as a compliment that speaks to the quality of her work.
De Valmy’s advice to emerging artists is ‘make art that is your own, try to make it unique, and spread the word; connect with people!’
I caught up with de Valmy ahead of the Art on a Postcard secret auction in conjunction with Paddle8, where she has work for sale, starting 13thNovember in aid of The Hepatitis C Trust. Follow her journey on @laurencedevalmy
HT: I’d love to know more about your painting process, how closely do you follow the original image that you’re appropriating and working from?
LdV: I tend to follow the image very closely. That being said, there are of course differences between the originals and mine. I often choose only a section of the original artwork or create a work,using a combination of several artworks depending on the story I’m sharing. The hardest part is choosing the right colours. I am lucky to have been able to see a lot of the pieces in real life but for others I can only rely on photos and we all know how it can change the colours. Since my paintings are supposed to be Instagram posts, not reproductions, it gives me more freedom to pick colours I think are best.
HT: I’m interested to know if you are inspired by the work of Richard Prince? There are undoubtedly issues around appropriation art, something Prince has received negative criticism for. Have you come up against any major conflict and if not what steps do you take to avoid it?
LdV: It’s funny that you ask because right now I’m working on a Richard Prince. I like to appropriate works of appropriation artists like Andy Warhol, Sturtevant, Roy Lichtenstein, even Edouard Manet and his Olympia, inspired by Titian. One of my points is to highlight art as a continuum. Artists have always been influenced by art that came before them and art around them.
I believe appropriation artists like Prince have pushed the subject further through photography. The question of modification of the original work is slim but appropriation has always existed in a way. I understand the criticism, I guess people who push boundaries are always met with that. The lawsuits on that subject are interesting to read because the opinions are subjective and evolve quickly with time.
As for me, I am in the frame of what is considered fair use in appropriation art, which is to transform an existing work in a new context to give it new meaning.
HT: Like you, I believe social media to be a fantastic platform for the arts. Are there are any pitfalls for young artists to avoid when posting their work to the site?
LdV: The main pitfall I see is posting poor-quality photos or mixing art with too many personal photos. Then again, people use the platform in different ways, some only share finished artworks, some will share mostly about the process. I guess you have to find what is a good fit for you. I usually have a mix between my artworks, exhibitions and some studio scenes.
HT: Do you think there is any platform that could rival Instagram in popularity for the art community?
LdV: As of now I do not see more powerful platforms in terms of reach,but that may change.
HT: Are you selective about which fairs and exhibitions you take part in? Do you think it’s important to be discerning in order to maintain and build artist integrity?
LdV: It depends on where you are in your career and what you do. When I started I had no gallery representation, I showed in group shows in various venues and that was a great way to start. Now I’m lucky to be represented by galleries that are a good fit with my work and I am happy with the fairs they attend. As you move forward it’s important to make sure that you show in places that make sense for you.
HT: I noticed that the majority of the artwork you’ve appropriated in your Instagram post-style paintings are by male artists, what’s the thought process behind the artists you choose?
LdV: My series is about sharing stories behind iconic artworks and artists. As it happens, a lot of famous artworks have been made by men because of how things were and still are, even if a lot is changing. That said, I have worked on female artists too (Georgia O’Keeffe, Sturtevant, Janet Fish, Barbara Kruger, Helen Frankenthaler). I make sure to include the important women in the stories; Victorine Meurent, the model of Olympia; Emilie Floge, the muse of Gustav Klimt; Ileana Sonabend, the art dealer who launched Jeff Koons and many others. It’s my way of giving back to these women who have been key in the progress of art but sometimes totally forgotten.
I started my series in 2017 and have completed over 50 pieces. I still have a lot of projects ahead, more women artists are among them including Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Hilma af Klint, Camille Claudel and Sonia Delaunay among others. I just need more time. I work on artists that have been key in ArtHistory and that I like. I also look for compelling stories to share and think about the composition of the POST, so there are several factors. Sometimes I get commissions from collectors who are a fan of a specific artwork or artist. It can also be a discussion with my art dealers to choose between different projects. It’s always interesting to have their feedback.
HT: For me, it’s incredibly important to show art history for what it really was, varied and diverse. I think it’s important to resurrect the work of forgotten female artists and artists of colour, in order to make it impossible for history to cast them aside again. Do you think you have responsibility, as someone documenting art history, to represent more women and artists of colour in your work?
LdV: I totally agree with you. I have been invited to contribute to the communication of the platform Repaint History whose mission is to increase awareness of women artists from past and present. Now that I have covered quite a few famous artists, I want to work more on artists who got less exposure than these superstars. My last painting was on Kerry James Marshall and it is a very moving piece for me.
Laurence de Valmy is represented by Azart Gallery (NY), Kahn Gallery (London) and Range of Arts (Honfleur, France). She has work in the Art on a PostcardSecret Auction starting 13thNovember in conjunction with Paddle8, showing with Kahn Gallery at Affordable Art Fair Hamburg 15th-18thNovember and at SCOPE Art Show, Miami, in December.
For more information see www.laurencedevalmy.com
Written by Hattie Turner.