Burton Morris is many things—an American pop artist in the tradition of fellow Pittsburgh native and Carnegie Mellon alum Andy Warhol, a former advertising art director and a lifelong devotee of comic superheroes, which he taught himself to draw at the age of three, when a well-intentioned attempt to imitate Tarzan on the monkey bars put the budding artist in a full-body cast for two and a half months. Now, Morris can add “Playboy artist” to the list. On November 9, 2017, the artist debuted an original collection of Playboy-inspired work at Taglialatella gallery in New York City.
If Warhol’s big break was soup cans and bananas, Burton’s was coffee and vodka. He entered the limelight—quite literally—in 1992, with a painting of a coffee cup that contributed to the visual identity of the hit NBC show Friends. (The piece hung in “Central Perk” for 10 seasons.) That same year, Burton was selected as the Pennsylvania artist representative for an Absolut campaign, which introduced his work to vodka drinkers across the world.Since then, he has developed a portfolio characterized by distinctively American collaborations with Coca-Cola, Heinz, the Academy Awards and the U.S. State Department, as well as international commissions for megabrands such as Chanel, Rolex and Perrier.
Collaborating with Playboy was a natural next chapter. “Playboy always stuck out in my head. It's out there and always has been.” Burton Morris: Painting Playboy was on view at Taglialatella Galleries November 10, 2017 through December 8, 2017 and consisted of 64 unique spray paint and silkscreen on canvas paintings, highlighting the classic Playboy Rabbit Head logo. Each painting measured 16x12 inches and was numbered starting with the year of the first magazine that was published in 1953. Above, we take you inside Morton's rich history as an artist through the debut of Painting Playboy, which included Playmates Nina Daniele and Val Keil.