The first self-portrait to be donated by a street artist has entered the Uffizi collection, courtesy of British artist Endless. And in the past few weeks, the London-born artist was also the first to be commissioned to paint a mural in the Cortina D’Ampezzo skiing resort, to mark the Alpine World Ski Championships 2021.
The mixed technique self-portrait, which is now part of the Uffizi collection, depicts the artist with the famous duo of contemporary artists, Gilbert & George, in their studio. The heart of the work is an original photograph taken by London photographer Noel Shelley based on directives from Endless. It portrays both Gilbert & George in their usual pose as living sculptures, and Endless reading a copy of a magazine, which covers his face: a reference to anonymity, a cornerstone of street art culture. The magazine cover features one of Endless’ most famous works, "Crotch Grab", a remake of the 1990s Calvin Klein advert with Mark Wahlberg, later used by Gilbert & George in a work of art displayed in their "Utopian Pictures" exhibition in Singapore in 2015 and at the National Gallery of Canberra in 2018. That was the moment when the trio made friends. Endless has transformed the photographic image into a format usually applied to works on canvas (a 1-metre sided square) doubling its height, in a metaphor on the use of iterations and slogans in the advertising industry. The work donated to the Uffizi today includes handwritten graffiti by Endless, which add rhythm to the composition. Created especially for the Uffizi, Self-portrait was presented today in the Vasari Auditorium of the museum: Endless and art critic Pasquale Lettieri were guests at the event, presented by Director Eike Schmidt.