Karen Bystedt brings a touch of Royalty to our Icons with her mixed media murals, first in LA and now Crowning New York City

Karen Bystedt, American visual artist, founder and photographer of “The Lost Warhols” brings to life one of the greatest art icons of the twentieth century. Bystedt was born in Israel and grew up in major cities such as London, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. She was a student at NYU, working on a book on the top male models of the era, when she cold called Andy Warhol. Andy himself answered the phone and agreed to a rare sitting with Bystedt in the conference room at ‘The Factory’. Bystedt is most acknowledged for a series of photographs she took of Andy in 1982, also known as “The Lost Warhols.” Bystedt has undertaken many collaborations with other admirable artists, such as hip-hop artist Chris Brown (aka ‘Konfuzed’) using the Warhol images as the basis for her art.

Karen Bystedt

Bystedt took 36 frames of Warhol and published two of them in her book, “Not Just Another Pretty Face”. In 2011, after losing track of the negatives for 25 years, Bystedt found 10 of them in an old cardboard box filled with termites. This resulted in Bystedt creating 10 editions of a beautiful book called, “The Lost Warhols.” These lost photos were recently displayed in New York at a benefit hosted by Halston for God’s Love We Deliver, a non-profit meal service for those living with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses. Amongst those who attended were Sean Lennon, Princess Alexandra of Greece, Pat Cleveland, Anthony Haden-Guest, and Theodora Richards. In 2014, LA Weekly included one of Bystedt’s murals in a list of the top ten murals in Los Angeles, California. Her stunning murals such as the ‘Brad Pitt Stencil’, ‘Robert Downey Jr. Stencil’, and ‘Drip Andy’ can be found in different parts of Los Angeles such as on Hollywood Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, and Beverly Blvd.

Karen Bystedt

On Wednesday, May 31st, 2017, Bystedt created a mural entitled “Kings and Queens” on Dard Coaxum’s (aka ‘Harlem Gatsby’) family building located at 121st street and Manhattan Avenue in NYC. The wall was gifted to Bystedt by Harlem Gatsby and the Coaxum family. Bystedt’s mural brought the community together and created a historical moment for the city of Harlem, where there are very few murals. Harlem Gatsby, along with several others, came out to watch her vision come to life. Among these others were Dapper Dan, who was featured on the cover of “Lifestyles” of the NY Times; Musa Jackson, ambassador of Harlem and columnist of Uptown Magazine; and Pee Wee Kirkland. They have supported Bystedt throughout this process and found volunteers in the community who were more than grateful to help her and her team.

Karen Bystedt

Bystedt’s “Inclusion Series” is part of the “Kings and Queens” mural, which incorporates her passion for photography with digitally created images. Bystedt was inspired to photograph the disenfranchised for this series: young kings and queens who were concerned with Black Lives Matter, a girl wearing a hijab during the Muslim ban, and same-sex couples showing affection for one another. Bystedt has gone on to photograph people from all kinds of different ethnic backgrounds in order to promote inclusion through the arts. According to Bystedt, “everyone deserves to be crowned.”