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25 Most Collectable Midcareer Artists: Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

Art + Auction

by Sara Roffino

Rollins began working with Kids of Survival (K.O.S.) in the early 1980s when he was a teacher in a Bronx public school and found he could build more fruitful relationships with his students outside of the classroom than within the confines of the building. The relationship became one of artistic collaboration and continues as one of today’s longest-running collectives (if not the longest), involving a fluid group of people that includes some children of the original K.O.S. members as well as Rollins’s students from New York’s School of Visual Arts.

The works—Minimalist paintings, collages, and prints—are the physical documentation of what is actually a social and performative art practice based on seminal texts such as The Red Badge of Courage, On the Origin of Species, and Invisible Man.

A 2009 retrospective at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College; inclusion in the 2006 Whitney Biennial; acquisition by prestigious institutions such as MoMA, Tate Modern, and the Smithsonian; as well as countless international museum and gallery exhibitions over the past 30 years speak to the longevity and consistent relevancy of the work.

Their market is stable, too. According to New York gallerist David Maupin of Lehmann Maupin, “Their primary market is steady, and they have collectors all over the world—Asia, Europe, and the United States. They’re consistent.” While large paintings can reach $150,000, smaller works and prints can be had for just a few thousand dollars.