Darth Vader Art Feeds Your Head

Stars Wars is no longer the haven of geeks who like to pretend they’re space-faring saviors. It’s gone viral for decades as a pop-culture cipher begging to be filled in by its fans, and their varied sensibilities. Which is why The Vader Project kicks so much ass, and why I built a gallery about it for Wired. What other franchise could command the arty attention of both hotshots like Marc Ecko and underground legends like Winston Smith, Robbie Conal, The Melvin and more? When that caliber of artistry revises Darth Vader’s head for public auction, that public embraces the dark side of the Force.

Darth Vader became the face of interstellar evil as the ultimate villain of the Star Wars universe. Now his infamous helmet has been modded by 100 artists, serving as a blank slate for interpretations that turn the Sith Lord into a clown, a rat fink, the Statue of Liberty, a psychedelic creature and even his real-world kindred spirit, Dick Cheney.

The wild mods, which are part of The Vader Project, go on sale Saturday at Freeman’s Auction House in Philadelphia.

“Star Wars is something we all relate to, understand and grew up with,” Dov Kelemer and Sarah Jo Marks, owners of DKE Toys and producers and curators of The Vader Project, told Wired.com in an e-mail. “Darth Vader is not only an essential pop-culture icon, but also the all-time most evil movie villain. Using the helmet as a 3-D canvas allowed for playing with or against Darth Vader’s inherent themes.”

The goal? To show off Vader’s thematic and artistic diversity, and deliver lightsaber shine to some of the Jedis of the art world. And to get the artists paid, mostly starting at bids of $1,500. “People hear the word auction and think it’s for charity,” said Kelemer and Marks. “If artists being paid for their work is considered charity, then that’s what this is. In our culture, art is pushed aside when it comes to funds.”

Bidding for Freeman’s auction kicks off Saturday at noon Eastern online and in Philadelphia. Serious Star Wars and art geeks can watch it live online, or pick up a copy of The Vader Project’s eye-popping catalog. We rounded up some of the best Vader Project selections below, from distinctive artists including Winston Smith, Peter Kuper and rockers The Melvins. MORE @ WIRED

(Photos: The Vader Project)

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