Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara Collaborate with Ape Artists to Exhibit at Artexpo New York

Photo Credits: Save the Chimps

The iconic Oscar winner, Joaquin Phoenix and his wife, actress Rooney Mara, will be unveiling their off-screen artistic creativity as part of a most unimaginable collaboration, being debuted at this year’s 47th Annual Artexpo New York at Pier 36, Lower Manhattan’s art and design destination.

Hollywood’s power couple has joined forces with the non-profit organization “Save the Chimps” to exhibit a collaborative art collection of paintings, co-produced by 16 of its most artistic primates from the Florida-based chimpanzee sanctuary, at this year’s Artexpo New York fair, taking place April 4—7 at Pier 36 in Manhattan. The unique acrylic-on-canvas works created by the Oscar winner and his wife, together with their ape collaborators, will form a debut collection titled “The Joaquin Phoenix & Rooney Mara Save The Chimps Collection,” comprising 16 paintings in various sizes, available for sale and ranging between $5,000 and $10,000 in price. 

This interspecies art collection is a collaboration between husband-and-wife, Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, who painted the base coats, and ape artists from Save the Chimps, who added their own brushstrokes as the finishing overlay. All sales of the artwork will benefit Save the Chimps, a 150-acre sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida, for 220+ chimpanzees retired from labs, show business and the exotic pet trade. Only about 10% of the chimps enjoy painting, which is one of the sanctuary’s many enrichment programs. Each piece in the new collection of works is named after the chimp artist who added the brushstrokes, and is signed by Phoenix and Mara for the four-day exhibit taking place at Pier 36 in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan.  Private collectors and known supporters of Save The Chimps include edgy rock singer, Pink, together with Sir Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson.

Rooney Mara

Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara commented on their debut art exhibition:  “We hope these paintings will raise much needed funds for Save the Chimps’ sanctuary and deepen people’s appreciation of these intelligent apes. Chimps are our closest relatives in the animal world. They share 98% of our DNA, so it’s no surprise that some chimps find it therapeutic to paint, much like some humans do.” 

The inaugural Save the Chimps art collection presented by Redwood Art Group in collaboration with The B-52’s featured 52 collaborative paintings with ape artists, 49 of which quickly sold at Redwood’s Art Santa Fe and Spectrum Miami fairs last year. 

“Celebrity art memorabilia is a booming business,” says Eric Smith President of Redwood Art Group. “I would imagine these celebrity and chimp collaborative artworks will appreciate in value, according to recent record sales made on the celebrity auction market. How much will a rare painting by an iconic Oscar winner and a chimp be worth in a decade or two?”  

FedEx Cares donated the shipment of the paintings from LA to the Florida sanctuary, then on to Manhattan, where the collection will debut at Artexpo New York, April 4-7.

“The purchase price not only gets you one of just 16 signed paintings by Hollywood’s coolest couple, but an invitation to the private sanctuary to meet some of the ape artists who collaborated with them,” says Dan Mathews, Director of Events & Special Projects at Save the Chimps. 

Now in its 47th year, Artexpo New York brings together the largest international gathering of qualified trade buyers—including gallery owners and managers, art dealers, interior designers, architects, corporate art buyers and art and framing retailers.  The curated expo brings more than 200 of the world’s leading publishers, galleries and collectors face to face with hundreds of established and emerging artists from across the globe. More than 15,000 avid art enthusiasts attend each year to enjoy exciting and original artwork, prints, paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, giclee, lithographs and glass works – all under one roof and within 70,000 square feet of uninterrupted convention space at Pier 36. Running alongside the world’s original fine art trade show is [SOLO] highlighting established, independent and emerging artists. Artexpo New York also features its annual lineup of interactive and educational programming, including Art Labs, Spotlight Program and the Discoveries program. 

Artexpo New York opens to the public on Friday, April 5 through Sunday, April 7, starting at 11:00 a.m. daily, with tickets priced at $30 for general admission. A multi-day advance purchase ticket for all days is priced at $50. 

For more information on Save The Chimps, visit and to purchase tickets to Artexpo New York, visit

JL Staff

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