A riot of colour, a lick of gloss and a touch of irony – welcome to the sunshine-drenched, palm tree-filled world of Tony Kelly. Cinematic, stylish, theatrical and very, very sexy, Kelly’s work is a blissful brew of colour and gloss. It is little wonder he is often referred to as a modern-day Helmut Newton.
Tony has a diverse and action-packed background behind the camera, and these myriad experiences have helped to create his current high-end works. His foray into the rarefied world of fine art comes after a long and scenic career path.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1975, Tony cut his teeth as a photojournalist, capturing the burgeoning celebrity culture that sprung up in a city embracing a new found wealth. His voracious appetite for blue skies and sun-drenched panoramas drew him to Barcelona where he embraced the "street voyeur" within. His quirky spin on daily life and cultural idiosyncrasies that surrounded him quickly became his distinctive signature style.
Today, Tony is based in Los Angeles; "a city of pure visual stimulation" to handle growing demand for his work in the US. By now he was honing his distinctive style in the pages of prestige publications like Vanity Fair, Vogue Paris, GQ, L'Officiel and Cosmopolitan. In 2013, he was commissioned by Playboy Magazine to deliver a series of iconic covers that would revitalise the brand. It was during this period that Kelly began to create the elaborate and extravagant set pieces that are now a signature of his work, producing daring images that blurred the boundaries of art and fashion. By 2015, having achieved international renown for his commercial work, the time had come to distil two decades of creativity into his first limited edition fine art collections. Since the successful launch of his solo career, his credo of "expression without limits" has fuelled his evolution as a collectible fine artist with global appeal.
Although highly polished, his work is playfully subversive which forces you to stop and think, inviting us to venture beneath the glossy veneer and confront stereotypes, taboos and role reversals.
His first fine art photography book, TONY’S TOYS, was limited to 1,000 copies and sold exclusively in Marc Jacobs stores. His second publication, TAKEN!, was released in September 2016 and was published by teNeues. It achieved critical acclaim and was described as the most entertaining photo book you’ll ever see.
Elsewhere in Tony's career, he remains highly-regarded by iconic brands and advertisers, from MAC Cosmetics and BMW to Louis Vuiton and Philip Plein
In 2017 Tony Kelly won Clio Awards recognition for his eye-catching print campaign to advertise the US TV series Claws. His growing stature as an international image maker won him the Monaco Influencer Awards (Visual Arts category) in 2019.
Kelly's artworks amplify the visual language that he honed as a photographer for luxury publications. Predominantly shot in bright sunlight, they are instantly recognisable by their dynamic crops, saturated colours and striking contrast. Guided by his philosophy that original art can only be produced by taking risks, Kelly purposely seeks to defy boundaries, stopping at nothing to bring his creative ideas to life. Meticulously styled and rehearsed, his work revels in the excess of aspiration, representing it with wit and imagination in bold and memorable images.
Now established as a collectible artist, Kelly has exhibited in cities across the US and Europe. In November 2019, he unveiled his new collection at Preiss Fine Arts, Vienna in an exhibition entitled "A Colorful Mind". The new collection spans eleven pieces, shot in locations ranging from Hollywood and Miami Beach to the ski slopes of Val d'Isere. Kelly takes his subversion of iconography to new heights to create a striking series of fine art prints.