Steve Kaufman




Place of birth:

Bronx, New York City, United States


At the young age of eight he had his first exhibit, and by the time he was 12 he had a job painting faces on pet-rocks for NYC’s Macy’s department store. Steve Kaufman then worked as an assistant to Andy Warhol in Warhol’s factory. In 1989 Kaufman opened his own art studio and hired many NYC homeless to work for him. He then painted the portraits of three homeless people which went on to help raise $4,720,000.00 to benefit the homeless. While operating his own studio Kaufman has continued to employ the homeless and ex-gang kids from the Los Angeles area. Today, Kaufman is still working in his LA studio but, as he has from the beginning, Kaufman is experimenting with a new art style and techniques.


As always, Kaufman as had a great response with his new works and collectors continue to celebrate his work as he embarks on this new style. We can see evidence of his new style in his “Hollywood Marilyn” where he has collaged other images into the work that “support” his main image. For instance, in the lower right foreground Kaufman has situated Marilyn’s star from Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, then he has depicted Marilyn herself all dolled-up as the central theme. Kaufman places her directly in the middle of the composition, heavily outlined, and in the background we see other elements and images symbolic of Hollywood. This new style is also evident in his First Ladies series of Princess Diane and Jacqueline Kennedy. Kaufman believes this new style will give his portraits more impact. Kaufman also believes in creating works that are unique not only in subject matter, or style but even within his limited editions. For this reason many of Kaufman’s edition are hand embellished. In other words, Kaufman chooses to hand paint on each of his limited editions so that no two paintings are exactly alike. Kaufman is renowned for his charity work, contributing to many worthy charities through his artwork and by personally visiting with the underprivileged and disabled. Kaufman supports over 150 charities each year and is considered a man of the people.


Kaufman's artwork hangs in the White House, the Smithsonian, as well as hundreds of other public and private collections around the world. He has made a name for himself in the art world and market and is internationally acclaimed as the new pop artist. Kaufman is the first American artist to be asked to create portraits for two European masters. Kaufman has been featured on Fox TV and MTV, and was the winner of the Underground Artist of the Year award for creating 55 racial harmony murals. He also created an AIDS Memorial in New York City, and a Meals on Wheels mural on the walls of the famous Spago Restaurant in Los Angeles. The Picasso Academy of Fine Arts commissioned Kaufman to create a portrait of Picasso, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Kaufman was also commissioned to create a portrait of Van Gogh for The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. He has been so fortunate to be the only American to be honored with the Picasso Ring which is an annual award given to an artist the Picasso Academy feels has the spirit of Picasso.




The Life of Steve Kaufman



1968 Sponsored by a Jewish temple in the Bronx, creates Holocaust paintings which were later donated to the Jewish Holocaust Museum in Brooklyn.
1972 Works for Macy's painting dog and cat faces on pet rocks.
1975 Participates in group graffiti show at Whitney Museum.
1978-81 Enrolls in the School ofVisual Arts. Meets Andy Warhol and becomes his assistant at the Factory. Designs theme parties at Studio 54, The Mud Club, Underground and Magique. Sales his art to Calvin Klein and Steve Ru bell. Meets Keith Haring at School of Visual Arts (SVA) show. Participates in group show at Club 57 with Haring.
1982 Creates graphics for NBC's Saturday Night Live. Graduates from School of Visual Arts (SVA) with a BFA. Holds art shows at the Air Gallery in London, White Freud and Fiorucci store window in NYC.
1983-85 Arrested with AIDS demonstrators for chain-locking New York City's mayor in his office. Exhibits Sex, Rock & Roll at Off Centre Gallery in London.
1986-88 Forms SAK Studio. Begins campaign for AIDS awareness with art shows featuringpaintings of Trojan Condom wrappers measuring 5 feet by 5 feet. Condom art exhibit shown at Main Fine Art, Edinburgh College of Art, Zanzibar Club and the Smith Gallery.
1989-90 Opens Art Studio. Hires New York City homeless. Paints portraits of three homeless people for Transportation Display, lnc. Portraitsare shown in 46 cities on bus billboards, helping raise $4.72 million to benefit the homeless. Completes unfinished portraits for Andy Warhol clients. Trojan Condoms/Carter Wallace sponsors 5000 AIDS awareness buttons to be given away in Greenwich Viilage and at an art auction for amfAR. Paints first Racial Harmony Mural in Harlem tobring awareness to inner city problems. Show at White Gallery, where all art was covered in black cloth in memory of those who died of AIDS. This show developed the concept for the "Day Without Art" tribute. Show at Loft Gallery in Tokyo, Japan.
1991-92 Completes 55 Racial Harmony Murals in the New York City area with Maleolm X images. Appears on FoxTV, MTV and various radio stations to speak out on racial harmony. Accepts award as Underground Artist of the Year. Paints Mickey Mantle's portrait for Mantle's Restaurant. Paints Joe Frazier's portrait to raise money for Police Athletic League. Creates AIDS Memorial in New York City. Drapes red fabric over the Ietter "D" on the Hollywood Sign in remembrance of everyone who has died of AIDS. Art collected by Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Dee Williams, Eddie Murphy and Larry Mullen of U2.
1993-94 Art Studio moves to Los Angeles, California. Starts a new style called "Comic Book Pop Art." Uses original paintings of Superheroes-Superman, Batman, Spider Man, to name a few-as the icons. Hires more than 100 Los Angeles ex-gang kids from prison to assist him in the studio.
1995 Published works for Martin Lawrence Limited Editions. Hand paints limited editions, giving new meaning to hand-embellishment. Creates limited editions of Beethoven, which soldout and Marilyn Monroe, breaking all sales records for a new artist. Creates portraits of Muhammad Ali and John Travolta, who autographed their editions. Firstartist to form a bridge between Marvel Comics (Spider Man) and DC Comics (Superman.) Works with Stan Lee, who autographed the editions. Starts the following programs:
  • Works with Los Angeles "South Central" parole officers.
  • Hires more than 200 kids from prison to work in the studio.
  • Receives award from Los Angeles Mayor Riordan.
  • lncreases charity work to include 100 different charities.
1996 Contacts the Sinatra Family about painting Mr. Sinatra's portrait. Campbell's asks Steve to paint a limited edition to mark Campbell's Soup's 100th Anniversary. Paints Ali's face on 500 boxing gloves, demonstrating that art doesn't have to be on canvas. By now, 325 kids have worked for the Art Studio and 85% have gone on to a better way of life. Paints two Harley-Davidson motorcycles: one a Campbell's Soup theme and the other a Cohiba Cigar theme. Later, the gastank of the latter was hand-signed by Cuban Ieader Fidel Castro. Creates Ali portrait for the 1996 Olympics. Ali signs the edition for the first time with both his Muslim name, Muhammad Ali and his birth name, Cassius Clay.
1997-98 Tina Sinatra Features Kaufman's portraits of Frank Sinatra on Larry King's CNN show. Holds art shows in Japan and Amsterdam. Has boxing exhibition versus Don Diego, a European boxing champion. After some minor controversy, Kaufman is awarded a win. Paints a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. The bike is driven around Dodger Stadium before each game and televised to millions of homes. By now, has hired 546 ex-gang kids and homeless. Supports more than 175 charities.
1999-00 Has a cardiac episode and a motorcycle accident. Quoted afterwards: ''l'm truly blessed to be doing what l've always wanted- TO CREATE.I have found a freedom that is hard to put into words. I alwayswondered about my projects-which artists are working on whatand which directions should I take? I don't even think of thosethings now. I passionately go into my studio and ask myself:What would l like to create today?" Releases Sinatra's Rat Pack and Mug Shot, Al Pacino as The Godfather and Scarface, New York City's radio shockjock icon Howard Stern, Barbie and two new Marilyn Monroe editions. Releases Van Gogh and Picasso in a new style 100% hand-painted edition, which gives new meaning to the hand-embellishment process.
2001 Continues to support more than 170 charities each year. Has hired 759 ex-gang kids to date to work in the studio. Creates two new styles called "Portrait Collage" and "Museum Art" thus becoming his 14th and 15th distinct style, comparable in number only to Picasso's many different styles. "Portrait Collage" style is emphasized in his Rat Pack, Hollywood Marilyn, Van Gogh and Jackie Kennedy by adding a collage of images to the main portrait. "Museum Art" includes a September11th Memorial Painting, which was a tribute to the heroes of the World Trade Center attacks. Created a 20' x 500' series of paintings to commemorate the 35-year history of Caesar's Palace. Both hung at Caesar's for all to enjoy. Created a 10' Fender guitar for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
2002 Donated Princess Diana portrait to Elton John AIDS Foundation . Starts new program placing paintings of his icon images in public places around the country for all to enjoy. lncludes a Muhammad Ali in Brooklyn's famous Gleason's Boxing Gym, a Sinatra portrait to Hofstra University, a Marilyn to the Foundation Fighting Blindness and gifted a painting to David Letterman to inspire heart recovery. Exhibitions in New York, Las Vegas and Maui.
2003 Suffers a major stroke following Art Expo, New York. Barely recovers to do exhibition in Las Vegas hosted by Robin Leach. Honored by Mayor Oscar Goodman, officially declaring May 21, 2003, Steve Kaufman Day in Las Vegas. Also honored by Nevada Senator Ensign and Nevada Governor Guinn for his philanthropic donations over the years. ln December, meets President Clinton at his Office in Harlem for a holiday party for artists whose art hangs in his private office collection. Donated art to and participated in Love Ride with Jay Leno and Peter Fonda for the 1Oth straight year.
2004 Creates and releases President Clinton's portrait. Donates many suites and all proceeds from his sales to "Give Kids A Break." Feeling ill again, curtails his painting and exhibition schedule.
2005 lntroduced "Uniques" which aremultiple originals of his most famous lcons: Marilyn, The Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Einstein, etc. Exhibitions in New York, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Maui. Donates 100% of his proceeds from a $100,000 gallery sale to "Give Kids A Break." Pope John Paull accepts painting of himself to hang in his private office at The Vatican. Paints portraits of Lance Armstrong that are displayed in galleries du ring Tour de France. Created painting and limited edition to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Created paintings of Mercedes SLR McLaren to honor the 100th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz.
2006 Feeling healthier, drastically increases his exhibition schedule with New York, LasVegas, Washington, D.C Vail, Beaver Creek, Aspen, Denver, Santa Fe, Rancho Mirage, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Key West and Maui. Introduces "Mini-Heart Paintings" as gifts to all kids who attend his shows and free framed plates for all those who purchase. Returns to creating one-of-a-kind originals to be sold exclusively at shows. Goes to Ellis lsland as guest of Lee lacocca for New York Society Event. Meets Ernie Anastos, creates his portrait and presents them on the set of Fox News, NY.
2007 Continues exhibition schedule with New York, Washington, D.C VaiC Beaver Creek, Aspen, Denver, Rancho Mirage, Maui, Toronto and Europe. Gives Free Peace Sign paintings to all the kids who attend his shows and free sculptures to those who purchase. Creates portraits for David Caruso of CSI: Miami fame, which he autographs at the studio. lnterviewed on TV in Denver, Aspen and Vail to discuss not only his art, but more importantly, his philanthropy.  Continues to hire more gang kids for the studio. This opportunity represents a second chance in life for each of the kids, who now exceed 1,950 in number. Golden Boy Promotions commissions paintings to commemorate the De La Hoya/Mayweather Championship Fight.
2008 Eighth Annual Exhibition at Centaur Gallery in Las Vegas where art hangs next toNeiman's, Rockwell\ Picasso\ Chagall's and Dali's. Unveils and sells new stained glass uniques ofThe Las Vegas Sign, Homage To Lichtenstein, and Homage to Picasso. Other exhibitions include New York, Denver, Washington, D.C Vail, Beaver Creek, La Jolla, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. NYC Art Expo. Las Vegas Visitor's Bureau sets up a display of Kaufman art seen by two million people a year. Caesars Palace asks Steve to paint portraits of Cher, Bette Midler and Elton John. Steve unveils his stained glass art at July 4th show in Las Vegas. Steve creates a new painting artstyle with his Coca-Cola and Apple iPod campaigns. Xmas gifts to Steve Wynn, Cher, Bette Midler, Elton John, Penn and Teller, CarrotTop, Blueman Group, Rita Rudner, Wayne Brady, Xao Yang, Jamie Gold, Neil Diamond, Tom Jones, Mayor Oscar B. Goodman of Las Vegas, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, thirty-seven world Ieaders, Frank Langella, Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, and Anne Hathaway.
Jan 2009 Six-day art exhibit at Stanfield Gallery at Sundance where 100 kids help paint thegallery floor with a pop art theme. 400 kids receive 8x8 paintings as free gifts. The entire event is captured for an independent film for Sundance 2010.
Feb 2009 Exhibit for art gallery in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Dylan candy painting edition. Forthe Academy Awards, Steve creates paintings based on the films The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost! Nixon, Milk, The Reader, and Slumdog Millionaire. Second major strake: I was seeing spots that day. I woke up in Las Vegas and,being paralyzed, I couldn't get into a wheel chair.
Mar 2009 As John Lennon said "I'm just watching the wheels turn."