When Andy Warhol co-opted the production model of modern industry to proliferate his artwork, the Factory must have seemed the obvious moniker for the site of his production. No other building better symbolized the mechanized world or its ideal of cheap and perfect reproduction. The digital world has no such brick-and-mortar space. Instead, Felix Culpa--an art brand modeled on bespoke, boutique retail--finds its abode in the virtual spaces of the World Wide Web and the boundless imagination of its sole proprietor, Curtis Frank. As such, Felix Culpa eschews the tired and unsustainable valorization of unceasing production and expensive, wasteful inventories. Instead, the brand focuses on made-to-order, timelessly-crafted instantiations of images generated on a dedicated web page.
How does it work? It's simple, really. A website is a fluid medium: a blank canvas for content with customizable style elements such as color, font, and spacing. But additionally, every website is framed by a banner, footer, and navigation bar that consistently surround this content. At Felix Culpa, Frank has smartly branded the latter while loading the former with a wide variety of well-curated content. The result? A lavish red backdrop and the Felix Culpa logo surround any image loaded onto the webpage. When he is ready, Frank takes a screenshot and this is what he paints. It's the combination of well-curated content and consistent branding that makes the finished product unquestionably boutique. Indeed, the value added by this process might best be summed up with the suggestion that you don't just put a Felix Culpa on the wall; Felix Culpa puts the wall into your life.
A consumer-oriented buying process is where the bespoke element of Felix Culpa comes into play. Avoiding the trap of art as hall of mirrors, Frank isn't interested in producing an endless inventory of paintings worshipfully devoted to his own aesthetic whims. Every Felix Culpa begins with a consultation, an opportunity for the client to impress their lifestyle and their living space upon Frank's careful consideration. It is from this consultation that Frank will create the content to be loaded onto the Felix Culpa website in order to generate the screenshot that begins the painting process. Don't confuse this client-driven customization for the frivolity of Paint-On-Demand. Frank retains all creative control after the initial consultation, a stipulation that insures a product that can be universally recognized as genuine Felix Culpa. As with every dress designed by the greatest names in Haute Couture, every Felix Culpa is perfectly fitted to its collector, but unmistakably part of a far greater collection.
Equally innovative is Felix Culpa's tantalizingly simple pricing model. With a minimum of 18" on the shortest size, every Felix Culpa is priced at a $1 per square-inch. While ensuring accessibility to the budding collector, this model provides for the imposing sizes demanded by seasoned buyers. Both will find a product that is well worth the time investment and asking price. Frank is a classically trained painter and his mastery of color and form is evident in every stroke of the brush. Similarly, lasting quality is provided by Frank's attention to sourcing materials of the highest quality. Every Felix Culpa canvas comes with a life-time guarantee, a practice befitting of a product designed to be passed through generations.
When regarded as artistic enterprise alone, Felix Culpa is conscious of several of contemporary art's most meaningful tropes: Art as Arrangement, Art as Framing, Art as Transaction and Art as Social Experience to name a few. However, Felix Culpa does not stop at being an academic or intellectual exercise, it follows through to a marketable product with a value underpinned by honoring both fashion and form. If comparisons to the Factory seem premature, it is to be remembered that Warhol's very model is part of an unsustainable mode of production that is as in danger of extinction as the factories it engendered. The contemporary marketplace requires visionaries less concerned with simply becoming iconic and more concerned with providing artisan products imbued with a living soulfulness that is not destined for a landfill in 2-3 years time. It is exactly this kind of enterprise that Felix Culpa's timely entry into the art market announces.