Who is Schoony, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Favorite Artist?
Why is Hollywood obsessed with this nobody artist?
What do Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Damon Albarn, and Benedict Cumberbatch have in common, apart from good looks and success? Well, they all are art lovers and collectors, and they have all purchased versions of the same artwork: Boy Soldier by Tristan Schoonraad, a.k.a. Schoony (see 10 LA Art Power Couples You Need to Know). Boy Soldier is a hyper-realistic depiction of a child holding a hand grenade, sporting a war helmet, and looking disconsolate. The sculpture also has film credentials of its own: it appeared in the action film Kick-Ass 2 (2013).
“Boy Child is such a powerful artwork that I think it really resonates with a lot of people, famous or not,” Leontia Reilly told artnet News. Reilly’s London gallery Leontia will feature the Schoony work purchased by Cumberbatch in the exhibition “Consume,” which opens April 30 and will showcase the work of a selection of contemporary urban artists. “Schoony made the original standing sculpture back in 2008, and modeled it on his nephew, and when you look at it up close it’s so full of detail. It’s very powerful and moving,” she explained.
But who is this relatively unknown artist with a growing roster of famous clients?
Schoony, born in north London in 1974, has quite the Hollywood connection himself. For years, he’s been working in the US film industry as a special effects and make-up artist, participating in blockbusters such as Troy, Harry Potter, and Gladiator, among many other films.
While working in prosthetics—a trade that his father and brother also work in—Schoony learned the secrets of casting and molding, and became an expert in creating life-size models of humans and monsters.
Schoony has been increasingly involved in the visual arts circuit, and has collaborated with the artist Nick Reynolds on a life-size sculpture of infamous rock star Pete Doherty, cast as Christ on the cross (see Sculpture of Pete Doherty as Crucified Christ Goes on Display at London Church).
It’s precisely Schoony’s ability to replicate reality down to the smallest detail that seems to appeal to his famous customers.
According to Reilly, Cumberbatch met Schoony on the set of the 2013 short film Little Favour, where Boy Soldier also featured in one scene. The two men became friends, and when the shooting wrapped up, Cumberbatch asked Schoony to make a wall panel version of the sculpture, which he has now purchased for £7,000.
“Benedict purchased it for the offices of his film production company, Sunny March,” Reilly said. “Schoony made an edition of five wall panels of Boy Soldier. We will be exhibiting Benedict’s own copy, but there are two more editions available, if anyone is interested.”
“Consume” will feature artworks by various artists in a range of media and styles, including a colorful portrait of Miley Cyrus in purple hues, crafted by the artist Juan Barletta (see Inside Miley Cyrus’s Exclusive ABMB Concert).
When we asked Reilly if Cumberbatch would be attending the private view of the exhibition on April 30, the dealer was suitably vague. “Maybe,” she said.
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