Drella -Croix- and the Warhol Connection

Painting-photography, hand printed silk screen, collage, ready made- photomontage-short movies and music Art dealing with the life and art of Andy Warhol with a humorous and ironic approach. (Andy’s nickname was Drella = he was a Dracula during the day and a Cinderella at night)

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by Jonas Stampe Curator, Art critic and Professor in Art

Tommy Dollar a true Warholian (The name given to him by Andy Warhol )

Thomas Dellacroix ( born Thomas Dellert-Bergh ) got to know Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring in New York, and became friend with Andy Warhol who gave him in the early 1980’s the nickname “Tommy Dollar “ because of his fascination for everything of American value. The artistic exchange was mutual. After Basquiat had visited the exhibition of Thomas at the Lucky Strike Gallery close to St Marks Place in New York, he let himself be inspired by Thomas’ way of stretching his canvases with ropes and wood frames that crossed each other in corners. That became one of Basquiat’s trademarks. Warhol got influenced by Thomas’ silk-screens with camouflage patterns… On the other side Thomas’ visual language has been strongly stimulated by both Pop Art, French New Realism and Dada, but his pictures are much deeper both in its content and a composition. His works represent “Think for yourself” attitude rather than “You get what you see”. Both, the formal Pop and the materialistic Neo-dada is moved further and is given a conceptual meaning beyond the media.

It is not the stereotype of Marilyn Monroe that Dellacroix is using as his inspiration. It is not some glamorous millionaire that he paints with flashy colors, like in his “We are all Queens” (1982) but an imprisoned Ulrike Meinhof with her arms stretched over her head, sawn together with Queen Silvia of Sweden. The difference is decisive. Here, you won’t find any of that flat unemotional and backward resting attitude that you usually find in so many American pop and neo-pop artists of today. No, Dellacroix is not only with his time, and he even goes further. He raises the already flashy color a few steps and applies it masterly on motives that forces us to reflection. Hi gives the color a meaning which goes beyond the decorative effect we know so well from Warhol. It becomes even more compelling in the work “Heroes of Tomorrow,” 1979 based on the German Wanted Dead or Alive poster depicting the members of the Red Army Fraction: Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin. The terrorists, staring out towards the observer are not frightening and in black and white, but painted in flashy colors like if they where Rock Stars. The criticism against the Mickey Mouse –like, common pop art images is strong and effective. The heroes of tomorrow in this picture are in a complete opposition to the heroes of the American glamour world, who had to pay a lot of money to be portrayed by Warhol.

To discover an artist like Thomas Dellacroix is not only exiting but also surprising. Yes, it is unbelievable that this Swedish artist has not yet been more appreciated in his homeland. The Swedish black hole is frightening. When he writes about his fascination for “the gap between the fame and misfortune” I immediately think about his own artistry as well as many other artists that did not get discovered. To pass by an artist like Dellacroix is difficult. It’s completely clear that he is one of the most interesting Swedish artists we have today and will probably become, like Fahlström, one of the most recognized Swedes on the international art scene. Not only because his works touch us, are expressive or because they talk about our time and future, but mostly because they reflect the courage that carries art and life forward. The Courage to express the frustration of the little man tossed around on the arena of indifference.