Artist and Composer Mark Kostabi was born in Los Angeles in 1960 to Estonian immigrants. Raised in Whittier, California, he studied drawing and painting at California State University, Fullerton. Kostabi moved to New York in 1982, and by 1984, emerged as a leading figure in the now legendary East Village art scene where he cultivated a provocative media persona by publishing self-interviews reflecting on the commodification of contemporary art.
By 1987, his work was widely exhibited in New York galleries as well as prominently throughout the United States, Japan, Germany and Australia. He inspired extensive international press coverage in 1988 when he founded Kostabi World: his bustling Manhattan art and now also television studio, which employs a panoply of talented painting assistants and idea people. Beginning in the early 1990s Kostabi's work has been widely exhibited throughout Italy. Kostabi established a second home in Rome in 1996. Dividing his time between Rome and New York enabled him to dramatically enhance his presence in the Italian art scene.
Kostabi produces a weekly cable TV show, The Kostabi Show, where noted art critics and celebrities compete to title his paintings for cash awards. He writes an advice column for artists, Ask Mark Kostabi, for Artnet.com. Kostabi has designed album covers for Guns 'N' Roses (Use Your Illusion) and The Ramones (Adios Amigos), Jimmy Scott (Holding Back The Years) and numerous products including a Swatch watch, the Bloomingdales bag, Alessi vases, Rosenthal espresso cups, and a Giro d'Italia pink jersey.
Kostabi is also known for his many collaborations with other artists including Enzo Cucchi, Arman, Howard Finster, Tadanori Yokoo, Enrico Baj and Paul Kostabi. Kostabi has performed music as a soloist and with other musicians including Ornette Coleman, Jerry Marotta, Tony Levin, Amedeo Ariano, Stefano Nunzi, Aaron Comess, Richard Hammond, Olen Cesari, Marco Siniscalco, Marco Loddo, Puccio Panettieri and Paul Kostabi. His compostions have also been performed independently by Rein Rannap, Kristjan JÃrvi, Maano MÃnni, Delilah Gutman and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. His CDs include I Did It Steinway, Songs For Sumera and New Alliance.
Kostabi's work is in over 50 permanent museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery in Washington D.C., the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and the Groninger Museum in Holland.
His permanent public works include a mural in Palazzo dei Priori in Arezzo, Italy, a large bronze sculpture in the central square of San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy, and a bronze portrait of Pope John Paul II in Velletri, Italy.
Kostabi has been profiled on 60 Minutes, Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, A Current Affair, Nightwatch (with Charlie Rose), The Oprah Winfrey Show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Nonsolomoda, West 57th, CNN, MTV and numerous television programs throughout Europe and Japan. In print he has been featured in The New York Times, People, Vogue, Architectural Digest, The Face, Playboy, Forbes, New York Magazine, The Sunday Telegraph, Domus, Corriera Della Sera, Panorama, Artforum, Art in America, ARTnews, Flash Art, Arte, Arte In and Tema Celeste.