Meet Art Basel’s newest up-and-coming artists — painting chimpanzees

They mean (monkey) business.

A first-ever chimpanzee art exhibit — you read that right — is coming to Florida during Art Basel, thanks to a bit of monkeying around with Acrylic paint.

The gallery will feature 15 pieces of artwork by primates that reside at the Save the Chimps Sanctuary in the Sunshine State.

“Chimps share 98% of our DNA,” said Save the Chimps CEO Ana Paula Tavares in a statement to The Post. “They are similar to humans emotionally, physically and even creatively.”

After all, Monkey see, Monkey do.

The great apes painted with swaths of vibrant hues splashed on canvases colored gold, black and white.

The pieces of art created by 10 Chimps from Save the Chimps will be on display and for sale at the exhibition.

“Our painting program at Save the Chimps is one of the many social enrichments we offer, and the apes who participate find it therapeutic,” events director Dan Mathews told The Post. “In their previous dire lives in labs, showbiz or the pet trade, they were denied the social activities that all of us Primates crave.”

The seven-week painting process began in September, with Mathews introducing the eager apes to renowned photographer and gallery curator Karen Bystedt, who’s known for photographing culture icon Andy Warhol when she was in her teens.

Dylan and art
Only a few dozen Chimps at the Sanctuary have an Affinity for art — like Dylan, pictured here.
Gold, black and white seemed to be the preferred color scheme, with some hints of greens, blues and purples in other art pieces.

Bystedt selected the style of painting — Acrylic on large canvases — as well as the colors of paint used — nontoxic, of course, because the hungry Chimps like to snack as they go.

According to Mathews, out of the hundreds of chimpanzees at the sanctuary, only a few dozen have a knack for the arts, and many like to work as solo artists. They have an aptitude for painting outside the lines, he added, and their studio tends to be “messy,” with color migrating beyond the canvas to walls and tables.

Kramer and art
Bystedt selected which colors each chimp would use for their masterpieces.
art by Chimps
Curated by Bystedt, the event will also include her work featuring Andy Warhol.

The “@rt by Chimps” show will also feature Bystedt’s “The Lost Warhols” collection, and proceeds from the sales of prints, as well as NFTs of the art, will be donated to Save the Chimps.

The sprawling 150-acre Sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida, is for Chimps rescued from the clutches of Hollywood and science labs. In its service to the chimpanzee community, the Refuge has been home to 330 rescued apes and currently cares for more than 200.

Art by chimp
Many pieces have a price tag of $5,000 each.

“Core to the nonprofit’s belief is that chimpanzees deserve to live free from exploitation and endangerment,” a statement on their website reads. “Thanks to its dedicated staff and amazing volunteers, Save the Chimps delivers safety and exemplary care to chimpanzees in need, ensuring that they can thrive in their retirement.”

The celebrity-backed Sanctuary has received praise and aid from the likes of “The Good Wife” star Alan Cumming, who also serves on its Advisory council.

Chimp painting
Some of the curious chimpanzees are so eager for arts and crafts that they sometimes use tables and walls as their canvases instead.

For years, Cumming, who said he feels a “personal connection” to the apes, searched for his one-time chimp co-star Tonka. Eventually locating her chained in a basement in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, they sent her to Save the Chimps for a better life.

Now, art by Tonka’s Sanctuary friends is up for sale at their own luxury gallery, where each piece is going for thousands.

The painting program at Save the Chimps is part of the sanctuary’s “social enrichments,” and many of the Primates there seem to find it therapeutic.
Connor and art
Entry to the event next week costs $250, a donation to the sanctuary.

A shimmering, golden 30-by-40-inch Canvas strewn with black and white paint strokes — the brainchild of Resident apes Dylan and Connor, two out of the 10 participating — rings in at $5,000, which seems to be the average price tag for the prized paintings.

It is Nov. 30, the “@rt by Chimps” event, in partnership with Miami Swim Week, will take place at the New World Center in Miami Beach from 7 to 11 pm Tickets to the event are available online with a donation of $250 or more.

The evening will also showcase sustainable swimwear designed by Ema Savahl, Amarotto, House Twenty Two and Blue Topaz.


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