Brendan O'Connell (artist)
|Born||September 18, 1968|
|Known for||Walmart Series|
Brendan O'Connell (September 18, 1968, New York City) is a contemporary American artist known for his paintings of Walmart interiors. He was nicknamed America's "Brand Name Painter" by TIME because of his impressionist paintings of America's most popular brands.
O’Connell was born in New York City and raised in Tucker, Georgia. After graduating from Emory University in 1990 with degrees in philosophy and Spanish literature, he moved back home where he worked in a grocery store. He later moved to Paris to write a novel.
Without formal art training, O’Connell began painting at the age of 22. He supported himself in Paris as a sidewalk caricaturist while working on abstract paintings. According to O'Connell, influences on his painting were French Abstract-Expressionist artists including Pierre Soulages and Nicolas de Staël.
O'Connell became known for his large impressionist paintings of the aisles of Walmart supermarkets. The initial works were created from photographs of people shopping at Walmart. According to art critic Joe Fyfe, the works are an "idiosyncratic" combination of "kitschy decorative art, almost tourist painting" and high art. O'Connell's canvasses have been exhibited in New York; Boston; Atlanta, Georgia; Turin, Italy and Shanghai, China.
National interest in Brendan began after he was profiled by Susan Orlean in the New Yorker. This was followed by his first television appearance on The Colbert Report. Brendan continues to do live paintings for the local media in Walmarts around the United States, garnering him the nickname the "Warhol of Walmart."
In 2012, O'Connell helped organize the Wal-Art Project in which more than 8,400 children gathered in a stadium in Bentonville, Arkansas, the location of Walmart’s headquarters, to display their artwork. According to O'Connell, the purpose of the project was to inspire the artistic creativity of everyone. Brendan used the Wal-Art Project as a springboard for Everyartist.me, a social enterprise that creates the annual Everyartist Live! art event. In November 2013, Brendan organized a national, collaborative painting event with 230,000 children across 46 states with Everyartist Live!
Awards and grants
- Orlean, Susan (February 11, 2013). "Walart: A career epiphany in a supermarket". The New Yorker: 46.
- McQuaid, Cate (September 26, 2010). "He's got his eyes on the aisles". Boston Globe. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- Godoy, Maria (21 April 2013). "Spirituality And Sprite, Aisle 1? What An Artist Sees In Wal-Mart". NPR. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- Rothman, Lily (January 16, 2014). "Brand Name Painter". TIME: 46.
- Barnes, Nancy (April 17, 2008). "Cornwall Art To Hit China". Litchfield County Times. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- "Brendan O'Connell". appearance. New York City: The Colbert Report. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Bethea, Charles (October 30, 2013). "Watching the Warhol of Walmart". Atlanta Magazine: 1.
- Price-Waldman, Sam (December 6, 2013). "The Hidden Beauty of a Walmart Store". The Atlantic: 1.
- http://www.cc.com/video-clips/25fidf/the-colbert-report-brendan-o-connell The Colbert Report
- "Artist finds inspiration at Wal-Mart". MSN Money. 25 April 2013. Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- "Brendan O'Connell". Speaker. Atlanta: TED. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- Watson, Jaye (April 26, 2014). "Atlanta native paints Walmart masterpieces". WXIA: 1.
- Eben Demarest Trust Income Beneficiaries, http://pittsburghfoundation.org, retrieved 6-17-2013
- "Wal-Art". Grants: Art and Culture. SD Rubin Foundation. 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2013.