Wolfe is in the Details

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Steve Wolfe’s works on paper exhibit at the Whitney is an exercise in too many details. Wolfe (b. 1955) paints everyday objects, most notably book jackets and covers on facsimile books (above) and the Campari box (below top), with special emphasis on tromp l’oeil tears, creases, and stains, as with the Gertrude Stein (below middle).

But for what purpose, I’m not sure. His recent book, Steve Wolfe on Paper (below bottom), reveals his esoteric literary tastes, but also confuses the eye. Some of the covers he’s precisely copied were designed by Alvin Lustig. If this were not deemed art, it would be intellectual property theft of the worst kind. Or am I missing something?

Steve Wolfe Untitled (Picasso), 1996
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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →