So, Kylie Jenner Collects Barbie Art? Here Are 6 Legit Artists She Should Check Out

Kylie Jenner, we have some tips for your budding art collection.

Kylie Jenner. Photo Courtesy Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

Kylie Jenner, aspiring art collector? The model and reality star may not be taking a page out of brother-in-law and noted art-lover Kanye West’s book yet, but she has purchased a couple of works of art from Beau Dunn’s “Plastic” series, portraits featuring close-up shots of the Mattel Barbie doll.

Dunn debuted the series, which is a critique of Los Angeles materialism, at the city’s ACE Museum in 2013. The 38-by-38-inch chromogenic prints reflect Barbie’s larger-than-life status in American pop culture over the last fifty plus years.

“I got into art because of the whole idea of plastic people and materialism and how people in LA perceive themselves. It plays with what I grew up with and how they act,” said Dunn in statement.

Beau Dunn, <em>Orange Barbie</em>, from the "Plastic" series. Courtesy of the artist.

Beau Dunn, Orange Barbie, from the “Plastic” series. Courtesy of the artist.

A one-of-a-kind piece from the series, encrusted with thousands of Swarovski crystals and titled Glam Barbie, sold for £10,000 ($15,700) at Phillips London in 2015. For her new works, Jenner paid a comparative bargain $20,000 total, according to TMZ.

Some collectible Barbie dolls have been known to fetch pretty impressive prices on their own. An original edition Barbie, in the striped swimsuit, sold for a record $27,450 in 2006 at Sandi Holder’s Doll Attic in Union City, California. Even that hefty price tag pales in comparison, however, to that of the most expensive doll ever sold at auction, a rare German doll that fetched $395,750 at Bonhams London in 2014.

Should Jenner look to expand her contemporary art collection, the Barbie is actually a fairly decent jumping off point. The iconic toy has served as a muse for numerous artists—including one who reimagined the doll with the proportions of a real girl, and another who cast Barbie in the role of Muslim women icon. Broadening the horizon to include all dolls just increases the possibilities.

From pretty in pink to downright creepy, here are some Barbie- and doll-themed suggestions for Jenner’s budding collection.

Andy Warhol Barbie, Portrait of Billy Boy (1986)

1. Andy WarholBarbie, Portrait of Billy Boy (1986)
Best known for commercial images Campbell’s soup cans and Coke bottles, as well as for celebrity portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, Andy Warhol married the two subjects with his 1986 Barbie portrait, a version of which can reportedly be found at the Mattel offices. (There’s also an official Warhol Barbie doll, released by the toy company and the Warhol Foundation in December 2015, and priced at $150.)

To get her hands on this one, however, Jenner will have to open her wallet pretty wide: According to the artnet Price Database, the work’s single auction appearance saw it bring in £722,500 ($1.62 million) at Christie’s London in 2014.

David Levinthal, <em>Barbie 43</em> (1998). Courtesy of Gering & Lopez Gallery, New York.

David Levinthal,
Barbie 43 (1998). Courtesy of Gering & Lopez Gallery, New York.

2. David Levinthal 
David Levinthal is perhaps the art world’s best-known Barbie portraitist, having created his series in 1998, when the doll was turning 40. “She was the ideal fashion model,” Levinthal told Forbes. “She wasn’t staying up all night at parties. She was always ready to go at 9 a.m.”

Jenner may be more of a party girl than Barbie, but as a fan of Dunn she’s sure to love Levinthal’s glossy shots of vintage dolls, which could practically be pulled straight from the pages of Vogue. 

Chris Jordan, <em>Barbie Dolls</em> (2008). Courtesy of the artist.

Chris Jordan, Barbie Dolls (2008). Courtesy of the artist.

3. Chris JordanBarbie Dolls (2008) 
In his 2008 series “Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait,” Chris Jordan used Photoshop to create impossibly dense collages of thousands of objects, repeated over and over again. The number of individual items in each image reflected a fact about American society, such as the 32,000 toys in Barbie Dolls, one for each boob job surgery performed in the US every month in 2006.

Arranged in giant petals, the dolls together form a giant pair of breasts. We’re guessing the anti-plastic surgery message might be too overt for Jenner’s taste.

Laurie Simmons, <em>Yellow Hair/Red Coat/Umbrella/Snow</em> (2014). Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94.

Laurie Simmons, Yellow Hair/Red Coat/Umbrella/Snow (2014). Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94.

4. Laurie Simmons, “Kigurumi, Dollers, and How We See” (2014) 
After a surprisingly touching series of photographs starring a life-size sex doll, Laurie Simmons moved on to photographing people in spandex doll body suits, a Japanese cosplay genre called kigurumi. We’re in definite uncanny territory here, but there’s something delightful about these lifelike characters, with their cheerful fashion and colorful wigs—and surely their oversize facial features would strike a chord with Jenner, known for accentuating her plump lips.

Morton Bartlett, Untitled (1950). Courtesy of Marion Harris.

Morton Bartlett, Untitled (1950). Courtesy of Marion Harris.

5. Morton BartlettUntitled (1950)
Morton Bartlett became a darling of the Outsider Art scene following his death in 1992, but in life his art was a private hobby, crafting a family of 15 anatomically correct dolls. He photographed his doll children—Bartlett lived alone his entire adult life—in an extensive number of poses, both in the nude and wearing his handmade clothing.

Even with a massive doll family, and hoards of devoted social media followers, Jenner must get lonely sometimes too, right?

Hans Bellmer, <em>The Doll</em> (circa 1936). Courtesy of the Tate.

Hans Bellmer, The Doll (circa 1936). Courtesy of the Tate.

6. Hans BellmerThe Doll (circa 1936)
German artist Hans Bellmer created his creepy, deformed and mutated doll sculptures in defiance of the Nazi party and its vision of a perfect Aryan society. The life-sized figures, lumpy and misshapen, but strangely sexualized, were the subject of his Surrealist photographs, such as The Doll, at the Tate in London. According to the PDB, another version of the image sold for just $8,050 at Christie’s New York in 1998, but prices for similar works can go as high as $325,000.

We’re not sure how Bellmer fits in with Jenner’s glamorous Instagram-ready lifestyle, but we love the idea of juxtaposing perfect Barbie with one of these nightmarish figures.


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