Xany’s “Icon Series”: Adding To The Mystique Of The Music

By on March 26, 2015

Xany Rudoff is a Los Angeles-based artist who for the past couple of decades has been creating art, primarily as a painter, but she has also dabbled in acting, interior design and wardrobe styling, whenever the mood strikes. Her work is now primarily featured at Revolution X, a new artist collective, gallery, rental, work space and the headquarters for Xany Art Inc. The loft-style space is located at 4355 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, CA.

Xany and her partner Stephane Simonneau are the co-owners and directors, and they manage the space, which showcases emerging artists and talent, including filmmakers, designers and artists of all mediums (including poetry readings, like the one featured in this clip), while offering them the opportunity to produce their own shows in addition, to being a catalyst. Xany says it’s “kind of like the idea behind the Parisian salons of the 20’s where people gathered and had conversations, exchanged ideas and artwork,” and, as it says on her website, for artists “to EMPOWER themselves and work in UNITY while, creating a network of creative friends and talent that all work together and help each other out.”

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Born in Pasadena to an artist mother and art historian father, Xany moved with her family to the small desert community of Apple Valley, CA, where she spent many years internalizing everything — music and art became her twin inspirations. After moving back to L.A., after living in the relatively empty expanse of that dull desertscape for years, she began to see the city and the art world from a perspective she probably wouldn’t have had if she’d grown up in a more urban setting. She went on to get her B.F.A. in the prestigious fine arts program at UCLA, studying with some of the most famous conceptual L.A., including Chris Burden and John Baldesari, and graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Throughout the years, Xany’s artwork has taken on many different forms and themes. She began her highly-charged political series about the Vietnam War and the American Media in the late 1990s, touching upon such highly charged issues pertaining to the United States involvement in the war and the effect it had on society and the media fallout that occurred.

In the early 2000s she began painting her iconic album cover series, which she initially began because could not afford to buy canvases to paint on. Xany’s Icon Series continues to be some of her most desirable and collectible work, nearly two decades later. It involves traditional techniques, including painting and embellished, using 24-carat gold and silver leafing, which dates back to the Renaissance, back when the same techniques were used on religious icon paintings by artists like El Greco, Michael Damaskenos and Theophanes the Cretan.

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ABBEY ROAD: gold leaf, watercolor (2009)
Collection of Chris Vietor

In Xany’s works, she explores the idea of the iconic modern day “worship” of classic albums and musicians by using found vintage album covers — such as David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane, Led Zeppelin’s Houses Of The Holy, and many others from the classic rock and outlaw country genres of the 70s and 80s, for the most part — painstakingly applying 24-carat gold leaf to the LP cover’s surface, followed by extensive burnishing, and painting and lacquering techniques in the same time-honored tradition of the Old Masters.

The result creates a rather luminescent and breathtaking work that glows with the burnished luster of a church fresco, and because the images are already so iconic to rock fans, they are immediately recognizable for elevating the album art itself to a new iconic status.

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HENDRIX: gold leaf, watercolor (2003)
Collection of Michael Freidman

Here are some of Xany’s comments about her process on the Icon Series, and her inspirations:

My current series of work, where I take vintage album covers and “iconicize” them by applying 24 carat gold leaf (or silver), watercolor, ink, and Swarovski Crystals (depending on the piece) is a modern twist using one of the oldest art techniques, gilding (gilding is the process of applying gold leaf to objects), and considered to be a “lost art” that the Old Masters of the Renaissance and Byzantine artists used to create religious “icon” paintings commissioned by either the church or royalty. It’s a very exacting and time consuming process, but the result is spectacular: Gleaming, lustrous paintings rich in both color and gold. Nothing else comes close to or compares to give it that look.

Each piece is very exacting, expensive (the cost of the gold leaf reflects the fluctuating cost of what gold is trading at this moment), and time consuming to produce due to the nature of the materials I use. 24 carat gold comes in very small, tissue thin “leafs” (each leaf is about 3″x 5″ and come in a packet of 25). Each leaf is so thin, that if you literally touch it, it WILL disintegrate into tiny pieces of gold dust- so I have to work using extreme care and carefulness in a very still, controlled environment to be able to adhere the gold without making any mistakes. There literally is NO room for mistakes or the whole piece is ruined.

After the gold is applied, I then begin a time consuming process of going through many stages using different mediums and glazing of colors until the final painting is done and ready to be lacquered. The final lacquering, which is also a stressful stage, as after all that work, if you use too much lacquer, you can (and yes, this has happened to me MANY times) destroy all your hard work. Poof! All your work can be destroyed by just one mistake, so in effect, it’s like the analogy of the “perfect storm” – sometimes it all comes together perfectly and other times, you have to pick up the pieces and start fresh again. But the finished result is what makes all that hard work and hours worthwhile! Nothing feels better than being given a commission and seeing the joy on the client’s face when they receive the final painting! That’s what makes it all worthwhile!

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WILLIE NELSON: gold leaf, watercolor (2009)
Collection of Tim and Michelle Burgess

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WHO’S NEXT: gold leaf, watercolor (2008)
Collection of Randy Billings

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ALADDIN SANE: gold leaf, watercolor (2007)
Collection of Ziggy Rees

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COUNTRY LIFE (ROXY MUSIC): gold leaf, watercolor

Xany’s artwork has been featured in many exhibitions and benefits and has been donated for such charitable causes including The Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, The David Lynch Foundation, The Bill Graham Foundation, and The MusiCares Foundation. Her iconic painting of Edie Sedgwick was used as the main publicity image and backdrop for the acclaimed musical “Silver For Gold,” written by musician David J. of Bauhaus and Love & Rockets fame, which debuted at the Redcat Theater at the Walt Disney Music Center in Los Angeles.

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SATANIC MAJESTIES: gold leaf, watercolor (2008)

Xany had her first major New York debut solo show — “Iconic Illuminating Album Cover Paintings by Xany Rudoff” — in May 2013, at the Ward-Nasse Gallery, located in Soho on Prince Street, in New York City. The Ward-Nasse Gallery was specifically chosen because it is has been run as an artist’s co-op since it’s inception in 1972. Founded by Harry Nasse, it is one of the few galleries in New York City that caters to exposing new art and not exploiting the artist with excessive commissions and fees, allowing the artist an opportunity to expose their work in the Soho Art District, the most prestigious area for art in New York City.

More recently, she participated in the 50th Anniversary of the Sunset Marquis Hotel, where she donated one of her iconic paintings of the Rolling Stones’ It’s Only Rock And Roll to help raise funds for the MusiCares Foundation. It is now in Whoopie Goldberg’s personal collection. Last year, she donated her 24-carat Keith Richards painting for charity to the 11th Annual John Varvato’s Stuart House Benefit. It sold for $3000. This year she’s donating another popular Icon Series painting, a new version of the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed, which in addition to having 24-carat gold leaf and watercolor, also features Swarovski crystals on the cake!

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In addition to the aforementioned Whoopie Goldberg and David J, other notable collectors of Xany’s art include many iconic celebrities and rock stars:: Benicio Del Toro, Pink, Alan McGee (Creation Records co-founder), Johnny Depp (he commissioned a painting of Keith Richards), David Lynch, Pink, Carl Barat, David J, Patti Smith, Tim Burgess of the Charlatans UK, and many, many others.

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Xany with Thurston Moore

She has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles, Vanity Fair, LA Weekly, and many others, and she was featured in a six-page spread in the cutting edge London Art publication, Cock No.7, in their “Dreams” and “Vinyl”-themed issues.

Xany’s talent as a writer and photographer has also been featured in the Los Angeles-themed website, LA Slush.

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TOM PETTY: gold leaf, watercolor (2007)
Collection of Matt Romano

Xany Rudoff is represented in New York City by Drate/Salavetz, who handle her commissions and sellings. More information can be found on Xany Rudoff’s website.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.