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Philip Burke (b. 1956 in Buffalo, New York) may be best known for his vivid caricatures that adorned the pages of Rolling Stone magazine for almost a decade. Burke's work extends beyond the likes of contemporary musicians; often serving as a chronicle of the political and social undercurrent on the pages of Vanity Fair, Time, Vogue or The New Yorker to name a few.
Internationally renowned for his unique style; explosive use of color, sparing brush strokes and distorted renditions of his subjects, Burke's style is unmatched. His original works, mainly in oil, encompass canvases from 40 inches to 12 feet in length. His subject matter has included rock legends, royalty, newsworthy politicos and entertainers from all over the globe and has earned recognition by the Society of Illustrators, Society of Publication Design and Society of Newspaper Design. His style and reputation so noteworthy, Andy Warhol once personally sat for Burke.
While Burke's work continues to illustrate living history amid the pages of magazine and newspapers both nationally and throughout the globe, his work can also be viewed in the traveling Rock & Roll Hall of Fame exhibit, featured galleries throughout the US and on occasion in a "live painting" where the artist himself embellishes original or limited edition reproductions of his art.
Burke was born in Buffalo, New York in 1956. His first dabbling with caricatures date back to 1971, while a high school sophomore. Philip left Buffalo for the University of Toronto in 1974 where he drew caricatures for the University newspaper during his time there. Although he lost interest in academics, he packed up his portfolio and headed for New York City to pursue a career as an illustrator. Living in the West Village, he began drawing pen and ink caricatures for the Village Voice and various other publications. In 1982 Burke was shifting gears and began painting with oils. He signed an exclusive contract with the newly formed Vanity Fair magazine. A year later, Burke returned to his home-town, Buffalo, New York where he got married and started a family.
By 1989 Burke's fun and colorful renditions of contemporary musicians began being featured on the pages of Rolling Stone magazine. Each month the table of contents would showcase a Philip Burke interpretation of the person behind the music- literally; Stylized portraits, exaggerated features, allegorical in nature, Burke's painting tell a story about the subject. Perhaps his spirituality at the core of his talent; his work often gets to the soul of the subject matter, capturing subject’s psyche or aura, the making his paintings more than just a caricature, but a story.
In the late 90’s, Burke's work would adorn the covers of Time magazine, and continues to garnish the pages of The New Yorker, Vogue and GQ.
Burke's work has been exhibited in a unique partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. The exhibit, The Color of Rock: The Art of Philip Burke, was on view at the Rock Hall from November 2006 - April 2007. The exhibit now travels throughout the United States.
Burke's subjects range from politicos and media personalities, to athletes and musicians. His paintings which regularly appear on the pages of Vanity Fair, The Observer, Time and The New Yorker often reflect a deeper insight into the face depicted on the canvas; getting to the soul of the subject. Burke's caricatures exaggerate features and highlight particular features of his subjects; telling a story within each portrait. Most notably his recent work featuring prominent players in the 2008 election serve as a historical reference: Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and John McCain.
Aside from his broad popularity, Philip Burke is an artist's artist whose work has been repeatedly selected for shows and exhibits by artist's organizations such as Society of Illustrators, Society of Publication Design and Society of Newspaper Design. Philip's artwork has been highlighted in several books, including The Savage Mirror in 1993 and Rolling Stone; The Illustrated Portraits in 2000. Perhaps a significant expression of the respect and appreciation for his talent among his peers was demonstrated by the uncharacteristic event of Andy Warhol sitting for Burke to paint his portrait in 1982.
While Burke's subjects run the gamut of celebrity or newsworthy persons and events his highest energy and vibrancy seem to converge on his rock and roll paintings and drawings. Burke, a Buffalo, New York native, recalls, "When I was a teen in Buffalo, I wanted to be a rock star, but I couldn't play any instruments and I was too shy to sing. So, I put my dream into painting and drawing rock stars". This love of rock and roll is richly demonstrated in his works for Rolling Stone magazine where he was the featured artist for seven years.
In 2002, Burke's passion for rock and roll was ensconced in an eight foot guitar on which he depicted Pete Townshend on one side and Shirley Manson on the other. The guitar, which was Rolling Stone's entry into Cleveland's Guitar Mania exhibit, was dubbed "Smash Hit" and displayed upside down, being held by powerful steel arms about to smash it to the floor. The guitar was on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until it sold at a United Way auction for $30,000.00. In essence, there's a lot of rock and roll in Philip Burke and a lot of Philip Burke in rock and roll.
His original oil paintings have also been shown in numerous exhibits throughout the world; New York, Beverly Hills, Rome and Tokyo. While Burke is comfortable "live painting"; having created a 12' x 8' mural of his impressions of Florence, Italy and San Francisco, California in front of thousands of observers, many of his paintings and drawings focus on the face of a single subject for which he may do 20, 30 even 100 sketches before he catches the spirit of the subject as he envisions it.
With each painting Burke creates a stimulus explosion, uncovering the attitude and emotion of his subject. Leaving nothing out, he works wholeheartedly, painting intensely and vigorously, making sure to capture his subject's psyche or aura. Burke works on a deeper, internal and spiritual level, seeing in his subjects what others may not. It's easy to see why many of his subjects have Burke's creations of themselves hanging on the walls of their homes.
Carriage Barns Arts Center, New Canaan, CT- January 31, 2013 "The Many Faces of Philip Burke"
Muzeo, Anaheim, California- January 8-April 12, 2009, "The Color of Rock"; The art of Philip Burke.
Symbolic Gallery, New York, NY -November 14-December 14, 2008, "Face Nation"; In association with the New York observer showcasing a variety of political work highlighting the 2008 Presidential Election.
Society of Illustrators Political Show, NY, NY- September- October 2008, Six pieces were chosen for exhibit in the SOI’s Political 08’ Show. Pieces exhibited; Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (2) and John McCain.
Society of Illustrators Advertising Show, New York, NY- 2008, Chosen for the 2008 Society of Illustrators Advertising show in NYC is Philip Burke’s "Rudy Giuliani" done as part of the Burke Madison Collection and "The Cougar" done for Cougar Paper Company.
Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, Milwaukee- June 24-September 23, 2007, "The Color of Rock"; The art of Philip Burke.
Lee Hayden Gallery, West Lake, Ohio- June 15–30, 2007, "The Art of Philip Burke"; Exclusive limited edition prints
Society of Illustrators News -2007, Tom Petty, Donald Rumsfeld and Russell Crowe for 2007’s Editorial show. Rumsfeld received a Gold Medal Award. Steven Tyler was chosen by Society of Illustrators to be shown in the Advertising section of the 2007 show.
Hus Var Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York-December 2004- January 2005, The Hus Var Art Gallery showcases "Cause Celeb"; Showcasing a selection of Burke’s Icon Collection.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio- May 2002 – September 2002, "Guitar Mania" Philip Burke, Frank V. Coppola
Miller Gallery Cincinnati, Ohio- May 1997, "Artistic License - 3 Styles of Caricature
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland -June 1995 - January 1996, "Worth a Thousand Words: a Picture of Contemporary Satire"
Museum of Modern Art, Rome, Italy- June 9, 1994 - June 1, 1995, "New Pop", Traveling
Gallery 1100, Buffalo, New York -October 1994,
Artik Gallery, Beverly Hills, California,- September - December 1991, "Icon Iconograph Iconoclasm"
Artistic Achievements/ Awards
Gold Medal, Society of Illustrators Organization to Vanity Fair for Burke painting of Dick Cheney, published November 2005, Editorial category
The Society of News Design, Buffalo News, 2004, Illustration Portfolio Category,First Sunday Magazine
Award of Excellence, 2000, Art and Illustration Staff or Team Portfolio,The New York Times
Award of Excellence, Art and Illustration, 2000, Three or more colors,The New York Times
Print’s Regional Design Annual, 2000, Christian Research Journal
Award of Excellence, 1999, Illustration Annual,Communication Arts
39th Annual Exhibition Certificate of Merit, 1996, Society of Illustrators
Award of Excellence, 1996, Illustration Annual,Communication Arts
The Best of Newspaper Design, 1995, Art and Illustration, two or more colors,The New York Times
Award of Excellence, 1995, Illustration Annual, Communication Arts
Award of Excellence, 1994, Illustration Annual Time Magazine, Communication Arts Magazine
The Art Directors Club 72nd National Exhibition Merit Award, 1993, "The Perils of Perot"
Certificate of Design Excellence, 1992, Print’s Regional Design Annual,"60s Something" spread from Mother Jones
Society of Newspaper Design, 1991–1992, Thirteenth Edition Award of Excellence, Category: Feature Page Entertainment, Detroit Free Press
Certificate of Design Excellence, 1991, Print’s Regional Design Annual, US Magazine Page: Star ‘90
Merit Award, The Art Directors Club 70th Annual Exhibition 1991, "Steinbrenner" Newsweek
Award of Excellence, 1990, Illustration Annual, Communication Arts Magazine, Client: Rolling Stone
The Art Directors Club 69th Annual Exhibition 1990 Merit Award, "Louis Farrakhan" Village Voice
Eleventh Edition Award of Excellence, 1989–1990, Society of Newspaper Design, Art and Illustration black, white and/or one color The Village Voice
Award of Excellence, 1981–1982, Society of Newspaper Design, Third Edition Award Competition, Illustration, Black & White The Village Voice
The New York Times, Obama: The Historic Journey, 2009. Callaway, New York, New York.
Rolling Stone: The Illustrated Portraits, 2000. Rolling Stone Press. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, California.
Heller, S., 1993. The Savage Mirror: The Art of Contemporary Caricature. Watson-Guptill, NY, NY.