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Joseph Klibansky: Superyacht Art

Denison Yachting | November 19, 2022



Joseph Klibansky’s sculpture helps turn a superyacht into a spaceship.

While art is often a focal point in residential properties, on yachts it’s often an afterthought left to interior designers. But this is changing. In contemporary yacht design, it’s not uncommon to see artworks taking center stage, transforming superyachts into floating galleries.

Dutch artist Joseph Klibansky, best known for his large-scale bronze sculptures, is a favorite of modern owners. His works have long made statements on land from Italy to China, and they’re increasingly making waves at sea, too.

Dutch artist Joseph Klibansky

Klibansky is vocal about the merit that art can bring to superyacht design. “A yacht is the ultimate toy. People work for them for their whole lives, so you want to make the design as good as you can, with as much emotion as you can, and that’s where art comes in,” he says. “Good interior design is important, but when you start layering with art, you get an extra depth. Art is an extension of your soul and an expression of your individualism, so you can see who the owner is through their collection.”

Earlier this year, Klibansky sold one of his works—a sculpture of an astronaut titled The Thinker—to Dave Hagewood, the owner of 56-meter superyacht Galaxy.

Main deck salon of GALAXY superyacht
Main deck salon of GALAXY

“I created the sculpture based on Auguste Rodin’s famous work Le Penseur.  Rodin’s sculpture was a symbol of philosophy, and I wanted to create a contemporary version of that,” Klibansky says. “I used the astronaut as a metaphor for innovation and technology, which are at the forefront of human existence. If you actually think about an astronaut as a human being in outer space looking for new planets, floating in a different galaxy, it’s so insane. It’s totally wild.”

The artwork was selected by the owner’s design team at Njord by Bergman Design House, who carried out an otherworldly refurbishment of the yacht in early 2022. To Klibansky’s delight, it was a perfect fit. “The crazy thing is the owners came to Amsterdam and visited my studio during the production of the piece,” he says.

“Dave told me that his father once worked for NASA and he was naming his yacht Galaxy. It was a serendipitous situation where everything fell into place.”

Big Bang
Big Bang

A  number of Klibansky’s sculptures have found homes on superyachts. “We had a request for one of the biggest yachts in the world, Eclipse,” he says, of those he’s permitted to name, “and we delivered two pieces to a big shipyard in the Netherlands for a yacht that was over 70 meters. One was the Buddha astronaut (White Thinker).”

“Art is an extension of your soul and expression of your individualism, so you can see who the owner is through their collection.” -Joseph Klibansky

Such works are relatively small in comparison to the giant installations that Klibansky is most famous for. One of the most recent, Birthday Suit, a bronze monkey donning a party hat, caused a stir when it was placed near the base of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. “I have a big passion for making public art because there I can use the wow’ effect of scale,” he says.

“I’m currently working on the largest sculpture I’ve ever made—it’s double the size of the largest piece I’ve done,” Klibansky reveals, adding that the project, which will be unveiled in Dubai in 2023, is being filmed for a multipart documentary that will air on a major streaming service. “I want to show the inner workings of fabrication so that people have an understanding of how much work it is to make a large piece.”

56-meter superyacht GALAXY superyacht
56-meter superyacht Galaxy

Elsewhere around the world,  the globally renowned artist is preparing for a solo exhibit, which is set to launch at a museum in Baku, Azerbaijan in early 2023. He’s also installing a number of new works including a seven-meter sculpture for a “super cool” new restaurant and members’ club in Marbella, Spain. Beyond sculptures, some of Klibansky’s favorite recent projects include the design of the winner’s podium for the Dutch Grand Prix and an album cover for Latin American superstar Maluma, for whom Klibansky also created a “crazy” costume chain which was consequently worn by Maluma during his world tour.

KLIBANSKY IS DEEPLY PASSIONATE ABOUT TECHNOLOGY

AND IS ON A MISSION TO CREATE A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE

PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL ART WORLDS.

Klibansky is deeply passionate about technology and is on a mission to create a bridge between the physical and digital art worlds. He’s already created an NFT drop in collaboration with LobsterDAO and is now in the process of creating his own NFT platform. “We like technology, and we like to be on the forefront of artificial intelligence,” he says. “When you buy my NFT, you’ll get a super cool box with a screen in it, which you can hang up and have your NFT rotating on the screen.”

Looking to the future, Klibansky believes that physical and digital art will coexist. “How cool would it be to have your astronaut on your yacht and next to it you have a screen with a floating piece of astronaut digital art,” he says. “It’s super cool, especially for an owner like Dave, who came from the gaming industry. There’s a bit of nostalgia there.”

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