May 24, 2017
By Becky Randel | January 30, 2017 | Culture
Mexican media magnate Carlos Slim partners with Romero Britto to help bring the celebrated artist's colorful works to the masses.
Passionate by Romero Britto.
Mention the name Romero Britto to anyone who’s remotely art-savvy and the reaction is the same: Vibrant colors and playful shapes immediately spring to mind. The celebrated Brazilian-born, Miami-made artist has turned his whimsical art into a recognizable brand, with licensing deals around the world with industry titans like Disney and Coca-Cola. But Britto isn’t done. A new licensing agreement with Carlos Slim’s Grupo Carso (a conglomerate that includes retail stores) will deliver a line of apparel, handbags, and home décor items featuring the artist’s distinctive work.
“Carlos Slim is the biggest patron of the arts you can imagine,” says Britto, who has been friends with the Mexican billionaire for years. Slim is such a fan of his painting that Britto was the first living artist chosen to exhibit at Museo Soumaya, Slim’s private museum in Mexico City. The artist says the new partnership grew organically from their friendship (which has included painting lessons with Slim’s grandchildren): “I think our discussions were always going in one direction.” Rolling out in 2017, the new collection is a logical extension of Britto’s well-established art-meets-commerce strategy.
“I don’t want my art to be just in possession of the elite of the world,” he explains. “The important thing is to be understood, because there are a lot of artists—and I respect everyone—who pick things that very few people can understand or relate to. So the lucky one is [the artist] who can speak to as many people as possible.” Britto doesn’t come from a background of privilege, which is perhaps why he appreciates work that appeals to a wide audience. “My mother was concerned with taking care of nine children; there was no time for museums.”
As a child, he says, “I just knew I needed to change my life.” He loved education, and even went to law school before realizing he had to follow his passion: “I never thought I could do anything with my art. But I always wanted to share my work with people.” These days Britto spends his time traveling the world and working in his 50,000-square-foot Wynwood studio and his two Lincoln Road shops, which together employ 100 people.
He is also evolving with the times, dipping his toe into the burgeoning world of street art. Recently, on a whim, he drew flowers on the exterior of his building, but a few days later they were vandalized. “Whoever did this to me did me the biggest favor, because I’d never thought about doing my art in that context. Now I’m putting spray paint and texture in my work just because of this incident… They opened up a new tunnel for me.”
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF ROMERO BRITTO