Calvin Klein Inc. is deepening its ties with Andy Warhol.
In a multiyear partnership struck between Calvin Klein Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PVH Corp., and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc., the Calvin Klein brand will have unprecedented access to the artist’s works.
Warhol, who died in 1987, remains one of the most influential figures in contemporary art and culture. His impact as an artist goes beyond Campbell’s Soup cans and Brillo boxes, and his work has closed the boundaries between high and low culture.
“I’ve come to realize that Warhol’s genius goes much deeper than cheerful Campbell’s Soup paintings,” said Raf Simons, chief creative officer of Calvin Klein Inc., who is well-known for his passion for the art world. “He captured all sides of the American experience, including sometimes its darker sides. Warhol’s art tells more truths about his country than you can find almost anywhere else.”
Calvin Klein Inc.’s financial commitment will support the foundation’s endowment from which it distributes grants sustaining the creation, presentation and documentation of contemporary visual art. In turn, Calvin Klein will be granted unprecedented access to the late artist’s work, including many that have not yet been published. The global partnership goes through 2020 and will extend to licensing projects across various business lines and future activations within the Calvin Klein brand portfolio.
The first iteration of the partnership was revealed in September at Simon’s spring 2018 Calvin Klein 205W39NYC runway show. That collection, which will be shipped to stores in January, features a selection of Warhol artworks as placement screen prints. The collection was inspired by cinema, the dream factory of Hollywood and its depictions of an American nightmare and the all-powerful American dream. The pieces incorporate portraits of Warhol’s friend and art collector Sandra Brant (1971) and actor Dennis Hopper (1971), as well as “Knives” (1981 to 1982), “Electric Chair” (1964 to 1965), and “Ambulance Disaster” (1963 to 1964) from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series. The collection also highlights pieces produced in collaboration with Hopper Goods, an accessories and clothing brand inspired by Hopper.
“I am proud that through this licensing agreement with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Calvin Klein will be continuing its long-standing commitment to the celebration of American artists and their prolific work,” said Steve Shiffman, chief executive officer of Calvin Klein Inc. “I look forward to the global rollout of this partnership across multiple levels of the Calvin Klein consumer experience.”
Michael Dayton Hermann, director of licensing at the Warhol Foundation, added, “Warhol’s legacy is not limited to the tremendous influence of his timeless concepts, but also through the work of the foundation he established, which has become one of the preeminent funders of contemporary art having distributed more than $275 million in grants since inception. We are proud that Raf’s visionary work at Calvin Klein will unabashedly embrace all facets of Warhol’s work and generously contribute to the foundation’s endowment.”
Throughout his life, Warhol was closely linked with the fashion industry. In the Seventies, he befriended many New York designers, including Calvin Klein himself. They were both regulars at Studio 54. Now, 30 years after Warhol’s death, Simons is setting out to renew the relationship.
Simons’ connection to Warhol was evident in the spring 2017 Calvin Klein underwear and jeans campaign, which paired those items with modern and contemporary art. The ads showcased archival denim, a cotton tank and men’s briefs in playful contrast with works by Warhol, Dan Flavin, Richard Prince and Sterling Ruby. They were photographed at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Rubell Family Collection in Miami.
In addition to Klein, over the years, the Warhol Foundation has linked with such fashion companies as Dior, Uniqlo, Stephen Sprouse and Comme des Garçons.