Arts / Museums

The Best Valentine’s Day Gifts For Art Lovers — Creative Presents That Touch the Heart

Becoming a Smarter Gift Giver

BY // 02.06.24

PaperCity contributing writer Ericka Schiche is contemplating Valentine’s Day and gifts that go beyond the expected flowers, candy and teddy bears. As an added bonus, your love shopping may just support a few of Houston’s most important museums too.

The amorous intrigue captured so convincingly in René Magritte’s surrealist painting The Lovers (1928) has inspired art lovers for decades. But while pondering the beauty and efflorescence of love, it is also easy to think of friends and family. Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to honor those you keep close to your heart — no matter who they are.

Art made in the spirit of love has the power to challenge and inspire. It can bring joy and good vibes. Unique objets d’art and other gift items also stimulate the imagination. With this in mind, here are some inspiring, stylish gift choices for you or the art lovers in your life.

These are the Best Valentine’s Day Gifts for Art Lovers:

Kehinde Wiley’s Death of St. Joseph Basketball

$175, The MFA Shop at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Kehinde Wiley’s limited-edition Death of St. Joseph basketball was inspired by his colorful painting Death of St. Joseph, 2017. The basketball is available at The MFA Shop in conjunction with Wiley’s “Archaeology of Silence” exhibit, on view at MFAH through May 27, 2024.

Kehinde Wiley’s “Archaeology of Silence” exhibit (the title reflects Foucauldian theory) has captivated audiences everywhere from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The design of this limited edition Death of St. Joseph basketball is conceptually inspired by Wiley’s Death of St. Joseph (2017) painting. That painting reimagines 18th-century biblical iconography and is part of a continuum of St. Joseph-focused paintings by artists including Hieronymus Bosch, Alessandro Botticelli and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Proceeds of sales benefit Wiley’s Black Rock artist residency program in Dakar, Senegal.

Global Affairs’ Yayoi Kusama-inspired Crochet Doll

$39.95, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Gift Shop

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This crochet Yayoi Kusama doll features the signature polk dot motif which appears in much of Kusama's art. Designed by Global Affairs in The Netherlands, the doll is gift wrapped in a cotton bag. $39.95. (Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts Houston Gift Shop)
This crochet Yayoi Kusama doll features the signature polk dot motif which appears in much of Kusama’s art. Designed by Global Affairs in The Netherlands, the doll is gift wrapped in a cotton bag. $39.95. (Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Gift Shop)

Beloved Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama’s ubiquitous polka dot motif can be traced back to Jud Yalkut’s 1967 experimental short film Kusama’s Self-Obliteration. To honor Kusama, design label Global Affairs, based in The Netherlands, pays tribute to the artist with this stylish red dress-wearing crochet doll. Kusama’s incredible Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity (2009) installation is also exhibited as part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s permanent collection.

La Boite Concept Turntable

$850, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Gift Shop

Dance into 2024 with this wooden turntable by La Boite Concept. Made in France, the turntable features Carriat leather, Ortofon technology and wood from the Spanish Basque Country. $850. (Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts Houston Gift Shop)
Dance into 2024 with this wooden turntable by La Boite Concept. Made in France, the turntable features Carriat leather, Ortofon technology and wood from the Spanish Basque Country. $850. (Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Gift Shop)

Explore cool, intriguing soundscapes with the wooden Square Minimal and High Fidelity turntable. Manufactured in Ustaritz, France by La Boite Concept, the turntable features Carriat leather, Ortofon technology and Spanish Basque Country wood.

Jada Schumacher’s Dan Flavin-Inspired Earrings

$48, The Menil Collection Bookstore

Color expert and Fashion Institute of Technology professor Jada Schumacher, based in Austin and NYC, created these Dan Flavin-inspired earrings for her Design Orange label. $48. (Courtesy The Menil Collection Bookstore)
Color expert and Fashion Institute of Technology professor Jada Schumacher, based in Austin and NYC, created these Dan Flavin-inspired earrings for her Design Orange label. $48. (Courtesy The Menil Collection Bookstore)

Minimalism icon Dan Flavin, known for his abstract fluorescent light sculptures, inspired Fashion Institute of Technology color professor Jada Schumacher to design these unique earrings for her designorange label. Based in Austin and New York City, Schumacher has previously collaborated with Bulgari and the Government of Japan. Her earring design clearly captures the essence of Flavin’s work — bright color, form and illumination.

Taschen’s Salvador Dalí Tarot Cards

$60, The Menil Collection Bookstore

These Salvador Dalí tarot cards by Taschen are part of a re-released which first appeared in 1984. Dalí originally designed the set for the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die" (1973), but the set never made it into the film. $60.(Courtesy The Menil Collection Bookstore)
These Salvador Dalí tarot cards by Taschen are part of a re-released which first appeared in 1984. Dalí originally designed the set for the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die” (1973), but the set never made it into the film. $60.(Courtesy The Menil Collection Bookstore)

Surrealist pioneer Salvador Dalí once immersed himself in the world of high-stakes James Bond intrigue during the 1970s. Initially commissioned by film producer Albert Broccoli to design tarot cards for Live and Let Die (1973), Dalí had a financial disagreement with Broccoli. As a result, Broccoli replaced Dalí with unknown Scottish artist Fergus Hall, whose tarot deck became a prop for the character Solitaire. But for Dalí, the story did not end there.

Taschen has since re-released an edition of Dalí-designed tarot cards first printed in 1984. A stunning collection of 78 cards accompanied by Johannes Fiebig’s writings, this is the perfect gift for lovers of both surrealism and Bond lore.

Chryssa & New York (2023) by Michelle White

$50, The Menil Collection Bookstore

Greek American artist Chryssa Vardea-Mavromichali, known as Chryssa, was a pioneering neon artist whose work is currently exhibited at The Menil Collection in "Chryssa and New York." This catalogue, including essays by Menil senior curator Michelle White, the Dia Foundation's Megan Holly Witko and Sophia Larigakis, also includes stunning photographs. $50. (Courtesy The Menil Collection Bookstore)
Greek American artist Chryssa Vardea-Mavromichali, known as Chryssa, was a pioneering neon artist whose work is currently exhibited at The Menil Collection in “Chryssa and New York.” This catalogue, including essays by Menil senior curator Michelle White, the Dia Foundation’s Megan Holly Witko and Sophia Larigakis, also includes stunning photographs. $50. (Courtesy The Menil Collection Bookstore)

Chryssa broke barriers as a pioneering neon artist during the 1960s. A substantial part of her forward-thinking oeuvre is currently exhibited in “Chryssa and New York” at The Menil Collection. Hailing from Athens, Greece, Chryssa eventually settled into the artsy Coenties Slip enclave in New York City. Her career and work are celebrated in the Chryssa & New York (2023) catalogue, authored by Menil Collection senior curator Michelle White.

The catalogue also features essays from Sophia Larigakis and Dia Foundation external curator Megan Holly Witko.

Romeo Clay Robinson Pillows

$150 to $200, Houston Museum of African American Culture

This Romeo Clay Robinson print and custom pillows will brighten up any room. Robinson is a Houston-based artist whose work has appeared at the Bisong Gallery. $150-200. (Courtesy Houston Museum of African American Culture Gift Shop)
This Romeo Clay Robinson print and custom pillows will brighten up any room. Robinson is a Houston-based artist whose work has appeared at the Bisong Gallery. $150-200. (Courtesy Houston Museum of African American Culture Gift Shop)

Houston-based artist Romeo Clay Robinson, whose work has been shown at the Bisong Art Gallery, creates beautiful figurative artworks which celebrate Black people and Black culture. This Robinson print, pictured with custom pillows, illustrates Robinson’s methodology, which includes a phrase he coined — “Controlled Chaos.”

Ankara Fabric Garments

$60 to $75, Houston Museum of African American Culture

This colorful women's African 2 piece set and kimono jacket with headwrap were designed using African Wax Print or Ankara fabric. $60-75. (Courtesy Houston Museum of African American Culture Gift Shop)
This colorful women’s African 2 piece set and kimono jacket with headwrap were designed using African Wax Print or Ankara fabric. $60-75. (Courtesy Houston Museum of African American Culture Gift Shop)

The beautiful colors and patterns of African wax print, also known as Ankara fabric, grace a kimono jacket (with headwrap) and two piece garment design.

Author’s note: Ericka Schiche is a writer and native Houstonian who has also resided in New York City. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Houston. She previously worked in the Houston bureau of The New York Times, and her work has appeared in The Independent, Salon.com and the French news website Mediapart. She fondly remembers attending the MFAH’s Glassell School of Art during her childhood.

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