BITS: Prince’s Jokes (Explained) & $treet Art

It’s Not Funny if You Have to Explain It

RICHARD PRINCE Untitled Joke Painting, 2009 Collage and acrylic on canvas. 48 x 36 in. (121.9 x 91.4 cm.) Signed and dated “R. Prince 2009” on the reverse. ESTIMATE $350,000-450,000 PROVENANCE Gagosian Gallery, New York Photo via Phillips dePury & Company

Phillips dePury has topped past unintentionally funny catalog copy with a new gem describing Lot 30 in it’s upcoming Contemporary Art Auction.  Lauding Richard Prince’s “Untitled Joke Painting,” dePury opens with this dubious gusher:

“Richard Prince’s Joke Paintings have remained a constant high point within the artist’s output for over two decades.”

Mm-hmm: Yes. Yes they have remained the high point. Sadly.

Then, having prepped us with the bad news, dePury goes on to do the WORST thing you can ever do to a comic: they EXPLAIN his joke!

“The work is technically lush, utilizing both acrylic and collage. The centered block letters read, in nine rows, “I never had a penny to my name, so I changed my name. Again, I never had a penn.” Prince’s obvious joke is corroborated by letters cut in half, and even missing with respect to final “y” in penny. One must assume that he did not have enough to his name even to get the text set correctly.”

Yeah. Heh heh. That must be it.

Oh, but there’s a leetle bit more: in case you missed that other funny…

“Interestingly, the joke Prince prints across the present lot is entirely unrelated to the subject of nurses, and thus the viewer might be left wondering what the connection is between the subject and its background. …If what he has collected also amounts to the oeuvre he has amassed, perhaps it’s simply natural for one piece to pratfall over another.”

Thank you. We might otherwise have assumed that Richard Prince just had a few nurses to get rid of.

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“Street Art” is Just a Word for “Emerging Designer”

We’ve all seen it. Shep, Damien, Banksy… they started out hanging from the eves with a spray can, and ended up hawking t-shirts and limited edition art objects online.  Yet even the advent of “Mr. Brainwash” didn’t really force us to just come out and SAY it.

But hell, now it’s time: The streets are just a starter kit for emerging artists with “urban” flavor: the goal is a corporate brand like OBEY or Objective Criteria.

Still, The Guardian sought out, Jeffrey Deitch, for the final word on street art as “big business.”

“Today, somebody does a tag in Russia, China, Japan, or Africa, a friend photographs it and within a few hours it’ll be viewed on websites all over the world,” says Jeffrey Deitch, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, which recently opened a major show on the subject. “I think you can make a good case that street art is now the most influential art movement of the past 30 years. The penetration of urban culture is huge, and it’s influencing everything from skateboard design to high fashion. Some of these guys have even been hired to design Louis Vuitton handbags.”

For Your Consideration

BanksyLA
Mean Authority Figure, Tots, and lame crayon flowers

Banksy is in LA marking up surfaces with his signature lil’ rascals, menacing authorities, misplaced mutts, and drunk and disorderly mice. Many have speculated on Banksy’s mousetrap motives for visiting Hollywood — that he may be creating a Banksy egg-hunt in order to draw academy attention to his film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which has been nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

Brash publicity tricks can only remind the academy, the press, and the chattersphere that the entire premise of the movie is mysterious and suspect, that the artist is a prankster who may will have created Exit Through the Gift Shop in order to establish an alter ego, Mr. Brainwash, for his blatant commercial endeavors.

The very first docuhoax ever to be nominated for an Oscar may well win just because the entire world is suspending disbelief.

Banksy Banks on Mystery (and fails?)

Noir

I recently posted two stories about Exit Through the Gift Shop , a documentary/comedy by Banksy, which claims to be a true story about a star-struck street art fan with a video camera, who becomes transformed into an “artist” himself through the magic of Banksy.

I laid bare my doubts about the integrity of the storyline in the movie: I speculated that it contained a clever mixture of truth and fiction which could not easily be teased out. I also said that, no matter the degree of fiction, the basic message is that art buyers exit through the gift shop — they buy in to a genre or a new thing or provenance and what they don’t do, is look for quality, take inventory, make critical decisions.

But there is one claim I made that I regret: I stated that anyone who continues to wonder about the degree of fiction, is missing the point.

Since then, I have changed my mind. We are looking for all out artistry, aren’t we? Don’t we want to know just how much of Mr. Brainwash‘s huge LA extravaganza, Life is Beautiful, and his subsequent New York show, ICONS,  were orchestrated by Banksy? And don’t we want to know how much of the Exit Through the Gift Shop story line is true and just how much ingenuity went into making the rest of the story come to life?

Don’t we want to discover a big clever net of contrivances?

Read on: the mystery unravels

REVIEW: Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop

“Is this the line for the mooovie?” I heard a mystified woman ask as she applied herself to the back end of a line that had advanced from the basement to the top of the stairs.

The line at Sunshine Theater
Snaking Through the entire downstairs, the Banksy crowd

We were at the Sunshine theater to see Banksy’s Exit Throught the Gift Shop, a documentary, by label, about street art and an unlikely new star, Mr. Brainwash.

Something like this could have been expected in the UK, where folks care about art and are intimately familiar with Banksy’s beginnings as street vandal in Bristol. But here? Even in New York’s lower east side, we hadn’t expected to see a crowd like this.

It turns out the movie was worth our wait. I think it was even GEEENYUS, or something like that.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop”

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