Andy Warhol On a Surfboard: The Surf Sale

Online auction house Paddle8 is riding a surf-inspired wave with their latest themed auction, presenting an eclectic mix of works panning from Montauk to Malibu.

Highlights of "Surf" include Shepard Fairey’s 2010 "Dark Wave," a black-and-white screenprint that merges Fairey’s signature style with the tradition of Japanese seascapes; Hiroshi Sugimoto’s 1990 lithograph print of haunting photographs of bodies of water, with the horizon line evenly dividing sea and sky; and Tim Bessell’s 2012 "The Last Supper Surfboard," which incorporates an image from Andy Warhol’s final series of paintings.

Once we were done scratching our heads as to how an iconic pop artist like Warhol winds up on a surfboard — let alone five as part of Bessell’s first Artist Series — we called up the legendary shaper to find what brought the series about.

“I wanted to do a quiver [or variety] of surfboards, what I call Andy’s quiver, which was my representation of the ideal quiver, starting with the fish going all the way through to the 96 longboard,” explains Bessell, who is also a fine artist by training. “As for coming up with the right images for the right style surfboard, the board Paddle8 is featuring, "The Last Supper," well, that board is a fish. And you know, there’s just a natural relationship between the fish and Jesus.”

Bessell first became interested in Warhol back in 1967 when the pop artist was producing the film San Diego Surf and took up residence directly down the block from a then 10-year-old Bessell.

Years later, Bessell and Warhol’s paths would cross again when Bessell was studying art and architecture at San Diego State University and was already an accomplished shaper.

“A really good friend of mine, Carl Ekstrom, was a surfboard manufacturer in the 1960s and Andy bought two of his surfboards that are in the movie,” Bessell recalls. “I just happened to tell Carl I was going to New York and he says ‘Well, if you run into Andy, tell him I said hello.’ And I go: ‘Yeah, OK, like that’s really going to happen.’”

He did run into Warhol though, at the Playboy Club opening in Midtown Manhattan.

“I introduced myself. Of course he was standing there with five beautiful models. I said, ‘I’m Tim Bessell and we have a mutual friend, Carl Ekstrom.’ Right then and there it all opened up.” Warhol invited Bessell on a tour of Interview Magazine and his factory.

Decades after Warhol’s death, their “artistic paths,” as Bessell says, continue to cross. The latest time was Bessell’s first Artist Series in collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation and the long-awaited release of Warhol’s San Diego Surf, which premiered last August in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art.

“I guess it’s serendipity, fate, destiny,” says Bessell. “In a way, it’s almost the story of my life. People who I want to meet somehow come into my life. I don’t know how that all happens, but it happens.”

The "Surf" collection is available now through September 4 on Paddle8.

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