The Many Guises of Darth Vader

100 artists, 100 Vader helmets.  What began as a simple business strategy has now become an impressive art collection. The Vader Project has been touring since 2007 in places such as California, England and Japan.  It also was exhibited at The Andy Warhol Museum in 2009.  However, the collections curators and producers, Dov Kelemer and Sarah Jo Marks of DKE Toys, decided that now is the time to sell these works.  They have teamed up with Freeman’s Auction House in Philadelphia to exhibit the pieces this week, and finish with an auction on Saturday, July 10th.  This will be the last time The Vader Project can be seen in its entirety.

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The show itself started in 2005 when DKE Toys, then a young company, wanted to do something to put themselves on the map.  So they started with the idea of taking the iconic Darth Vader mask and distributing it to artists of all sorts, to decorate as they saw fit. Each artist was given a white, Master Replica (the licensee for the Vader helmet), life-size 1:1 prop replica Darth Vader helmet.  They picked 100 artists working in various styles, such as Pop Surrealism, Graffiti, Tattoo, and Designer Vinyl Toys.  A few notable artists include: Dalek, Paul Frank, Marc Ecko and Mike Giant.

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Gris Grimly “Villains”

The directions in which the artists decided to take their masks are numerous.  Some feed off of the stereotypical qualities of the iconic evil-doer, such as Gris Grimly with “Villains,” depicting warped cartoons of familiar Star Wars characters.  Some contradict it, such as Wade Lageose’s helmet that merges Darth Vader with the Statue of Liberty, which is flawless down to the rusted patina.

Wade Lageose “Untitled”

Others use it as a calling card, such as Mister Cartoon’s “Darth Fader,” where he displays his classic clown and skull that ominously emerge from an airbrushed haze.

Mister Cartoon “Darth Fader”

Artists like Girls Drawin Girls tap into more comical images, such as with their helmet “Carmen Mirandarth,” which mimics the singer/actress, Carmen Miranda, and her signature fruit hat.

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Girls Drawin Girls “Carmen Mirandarth”

The show will be on display at Freeman’s starting Monday, July 5th through Friday, July 9th, from 10am to 6pm.  The auction will be held on Saturday, July 10th, at 12pm.

Note: Photos Courtesy of DKE Toys