Marko Stout is a major name in the New York City art scene for his photography, painting, sculpture, video, and more. Though the press usually connects him to the pop art scene, his style is much more interesting than a simple label. He is less a descendant of Koons or Warhol than he is his own artist.
Stout’s many fans, including celebrities such as the Kardashians, Debra Messing, Billie Eilish, and RuPaul regularly line up at exhibition openings to see the artist’s latest work. His shows regularly sell out and his momentum appears to be speeding up rather than slowing down. So, now might be the time to take a longer look at his work and understand the style of this rising star.
Stout describes his work’s focus on vibrant colors as an exploration of peak human experiences. This is perhaps the best way to understand his style and subject matter. He depicts the erotic and titillating with a vibrant almost neon spectacle. New York City is also a major influence, with hyper-urban spaces usually providing the backdrop for his models.
His “Erotic Allure” series shows off this combination in a sequence of looping portraits — creating a mixture of concrete and skin that is both industrial and urban as well as pulsing sensual and appetizing. These portraits are lit in the extreme ends of the color spectrum: vibrant pinks and blues and reds and the blinding white of blacklight highlights.
The women in his work are often clad in a sensual urban fashion style and they confidently control the unreal world of his pieces. Stout’s work transports us to a universe alchemically transformed by arousal. It is the realization of pumping dopamine and panting breath in the very makeup of the world. That central idea shows the conceptual development of the artist beyond the social commentary and post-modern wings of the pop art school.
In fact, Marko Stout is most often compared to Andy Warhol, but this comparison is not quite right. Where Warhol revealed through the screen-printing process the mass-produced, commodified nature in every facet of the culture, Stout defends the personal, the felt, the real. He draws in bright color a frame around that which can never be stripped away from the human experience: the experience itself.
In a time of alternate realities, digitally mediated social interaction, and algorithmic hamster wheels, the real experience is threatened like never before. But Stout snaps us back into an appreciation of direct experience. His techno-expressionism certainly takes visual cues from the times we live in, but the heart of his work is in returning to the senses.
Stout’s approach is fully pop art in his earlier work. His piece “Erotic Allure No. 16” is one of his many paintings that carries out an approach to design crafted as much in Vogue as in art circles. Here he takes the commercialization of sex appeal and turns it on its head. He uses the fashion world motif of illustrated effects over images of models to celebrate the erotic, selling nothing. In a sense, he reclaims the ability to see beauty. However one describes it, Marko Stout’s style is turning heads and shaking up the New York City pop art scene. We eagerly wait to see where he will go next.