In his own lifetime, Tretchikoff was the only artist who managed to achieve ubiquity amongst the popular masses. Quite simply, one could say he brought art to the people and prints of his work reached the four corners of the globe.
Unbeknown to many, Tretchikoff was the first artist to make and sell lithographic reproductions of his work, making it affordable and accessible to the ordinary person. At the time, art critics objected, saying he was devaluing and commercialising art. To which he responded, “Why should my art only be available to the rich and famous? I want everyone to enjoy my art.”
In doing so, Tretchikoff shifted the way regular men and woman relate to art, how they obtain it, take ownership of it, display and enjoy it. He also influenced the way that artists today manage their intellectual property, distribute and generate a living from their work.
- To bring art to the people
- To make a living from their craft
Overall, not only was he a great artist ahead of his time, he was an innovative marketer and successful business man too. Wayne Hemmingway once commented, “Tretchikoff achieved what Andy Warhol stated he wanted to but never could because of his coolness.” So in an era when Warhol was just beginning to realise the commercial potential of a reproduced image, Tretchikoff successfully marketed his art prints around the world with 52 exhibitions and to this day unprecedented attendance figures.
Call it what you wish – urban sophisticate, retro kitsch, nostalgic resurrection, counter culture â€“ Tretchi is just at the beginning of coming into his own centre of gravity. Commercial and connoisseur, the recent record sale of the “Fruits of Bali” for R2.74 million would indicate that the art world has finally succumbed to Tretchi’s talent as well.
These then are just a few of the reasons why we feel it appropriate to re-introduce Tretchikoff to the next generation; to give them the opportunity to make their own assessment of the artist as well as his legacy; and at the very least, to signify that the general art public had it right all along.