KEEPING BUSY. The American artist Alex Israel was born in Los Angeles in 1982 and has placed his place of birth at the center of his work. A constant inspiration which feeds both his painting and his many collaborations. This spring he unveiled an original work for the packaging of the latest perfume from Louis Vuitton, City of Stars.
Alex Israel, you studied at Yale and worked for Sotheby’s and Hauser & Wirth gallery. When did you start to be an artist?
I was probably 2 or 3. One of my earliest memories is of finger painting at that age — I’ll never forget my astonishment when mixing red and yellow, and discovering that together they make orange.
How would you describe your work?
I’d probably say that it’s my life.
What has changed in your work over the years?
The dates on the backs of the paintings.
“Perfume is ephemeral, poetic and performative in nature”
Alex Israel created an original work for the City of Stars perfume. It is a fresco of his beloved, glorified and indomitable city as it rouses at nightfall. Louis Vuitton collaborated with the LA based artist, who designed the outer packaging of their new fragrances.
Alex Israel, why is LA a good place for an artist?
Because at the end of the day you get to go outside in a t-shirt and flip-flops and watch the sunset, take a deep breath, and post it on Instagram.
What kind of mood is there in California today?
How is the world of art going?
It’s expanding—physically and digitally. The audience is growing.
Did you make any special projects during the COVID years?
I’ve worked for all of covid on a new sculpture of my hometown, Los Angeles, which I’m showing at Greene Naftali Gallery in New York in May. I’ve also been working on a media project, which will hopefully begin shooting very soon.
You always wear sunglasses. What color are your eyes?
“I love learning new things”
Alex Israel, why do you work with sunglasses, perfumes and accessories?
I sometimes like making things that aren’t “Art.” It’s liberating, and it’s part of my continuing education. I love learning new things.
How did you start your collaboration with Louis Vuitton?
Delphine Arnault initiated the relationship. She has collected my work, we are friends, and she invited me to work with the brand.
You have a long and productive relationship with Louis Vuitton and especially with their perfumes. What interested you the most?
Perfume is ephemeral, poetic and performative in nature. It’s all about escapism, romance and fantasy: it’s like the movies!
City Of Stars by Louis Vuitton is a fragrance for women and men. Launched in 2022, the top notes are Lime, Blood Orange, Lemon, Blood Mandarin and Bergamot; middle note is Tiare Flower; base notes are Sandalwood, Musk and Powdery Notes.
Cactus Garden by Louis Vuitton is a Citrus Aromatic fragrance for women and men. Launched in 2019, the nose behind this fragrance is Jacques Cavallier. Cactus Garden represents the contrast between the dry exterior and the wet interior of the cactus, with notes of matte tea, bergamot and lemongrass.
City Of Stars by Louis Vuitton is a fragrance for women and men. This new fragrance was launched in 2022. Afternoon Swim by Louis Vuitton is a Citrus fragrance for women and men, launched in 2019. On The Beach by Louis Vuitton is a Citrus Aromatic fragrance for women and men launched in 2021. California Dream by Louis Vuitton is a Citrus fragrance for women and men launched in 2020. The nose behind these fragrances is Jacques Cavallier. The colors of the bottle and the packaging are designed by LA artist Alex Israel under the name “Sky Backdrop”.
Alex Israel, Maltese Falcon, 2013. Cast bronze with black patina, 10 1/4 x 4 3/8 inches, edition of 20.
The handbag Artycapucines. One of Alex Israel’s most iconic works, “The Wave”, has been affixed to the iconic handbag. Using complex leather work and inspired by the Los Angeles skyline, the colors are made lustrous thanks to high-definition digital printing process and mimic the different shades of tanned skin and surfer wet-suits that decorate the Pacific coast.
Alex Israel, Self-Portrait (City Lights), 2014.
Acrylic and bondo on fiberglass, 96 x 84 inches.
“The audience is growing”
Alex Israel, do you wear perfume?
What future projects do you have on your agenda?
I’m working on new paintings and sculptures, new video projects and new books. I’m planning future exhibitions and projects in China, Korea, Europe and the US. Clearly, I like to keep busy.
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