Howard Tullman and Flashpoint Academy

Claire Lynch

Howard Tullman at Flashpoint Academy. Photo courtesy of Nick Novelli.

In today’s world, many successful people are a brand. In Chicago and the world of art collectors as a whole, Howard Tullman is a major one. His role as a tastemaker is unique, for his choice in art is far from classic. In fact, it’s jaw dropping.

Chicago Art Collector had the opportunity to view Tullman’s art displayed at his latest endeavor: Flashpoint Academy, a school is dedicated to digital art (from filmmaking to game design). The space is bursting with works specifically selected for the students. Tullman explained that he wants to show them something inspiring and something they can relate to. While giving a tour and pointing out the works, Howard enthusiastically informed me of artists’ backgrounds and material used.

Oops... I did it again, Gray

Oops… I Did It Again, is a painting of Britney Spears, bald and with a halo.  She is bald and has a halo. In this particular work, a series of small, individually painted blocks of wood were combined and an image of Spears was painted over them. These blocks weren’t painted by the artist. Instead, each was sent to acquaintances that work in the porn industry. They were instructed to paint whatever they wanted and sent it back. Gray then created the eerie portrait of Britney.

The collection at Flashpoint is shocking and ever-evolving. Tullman changes the display himself, typically every two weeks. Viewing it, and getting a glimpse of Tullman’s taste was the barely a warning for his personal collection, housed in an inconspicuous West Loop building.

If it burned down, Tullman claims he would escape carrying Fly Dog, a large sculpture of a nude, deranged man, crouching on top of a ladder. The loft is filled to the brim with eccentric art. Standing in one of his rooms, a viewer will face combative stares, a thousand naked women, a wall of Pez dispensers, and a life-size sculpture of a pig wearing an NYPD uniform.

Flashpoint Academy

True collectors make a statement; the collection reflects the man. Only a living, breathing machine could do what Howard Tullman does on a daily basis (his resume is found on his website). To comparing his make-your-own rules career, and an art collection far from the establishment’s aesthetic, you see that this collection does what we ask collectors to do – think for themselves. When a collector does that, their collection can be read as the cumulative of a psychoanalysis, a self-portrait, and a branding statement.  And what is seen in an honest and straightforward reflection is always exciting. Tullman’s collection and life choices are both wide-reaching, energetic, and fearless – matching the career and life of man completely at ease in a life of sensory, and information, overload.

More images from the Flashpoint Academy:

Flashpoint Academy. Photo courtesy of Nick Novelli.

Flashpoint Academy. Photo courtesy of Nick Novelli.