Portrait 5 Stephen(s), 2010 Lot #1

Stephen(s)
Portrait 5, Stephen(s), 2010

The whimsical Phillips de Pury & Company website is, as I’ve noted in the past, a remedy to prim auction house hem-haw. And I am pleased that Lot #1 of their Under the Influence auction of March 8, went for a full quarter of  it’s estimated $100, 000 to hammer at $26,000 — the full proceeds of which, will benefit DonorsChoose.org, which sends dollars to classrooms with projects in need of materials and resources.

It is much the credit of PdP that they take on nonsense and give full fluff to the requisite irony.

Here’s the site description of Lot #1, in it’s full glory:

1

FULL PROCEEDS BENEFIT DONORSCHOOSE.ORG

STEPHEN COLBERT, SHEPARD FAIREY, ANDRES SERRANO AND FRANK STELLA

Portrait 5, Stephen(s), 2010

Inkjet on canvas, with acrylic spray paint, Sharpie, looked-at-edness of Frank Stella. Printed at 291 Digital in New York. Suitable for Framing.  47 x 36 in. (not available in metric)  Signed “Andres Serrano” lower left.

ESTIMATE: AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

SOLD AT $26,000

PROVENANCE The Colbert Report

In an ambitious on-going work that calls to mind the sprawling constructed worlds of Matthew Barney and identity-questioning narratives of Sophie Calle, TV pundit and conceptual artist Stephen Colbert has been performing his site-specific installation, “The Colbert Report,”…

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You got TV all over my artwork…

Right: Colbert to Serrano, "You made me Charlie Chaplan!" Left: detail of Shep's stencil work

Got a piece of art with some TV sticking to it?  Call the fun-loving specialists at Phillips de Pury.

When Abdi Farah won the Bravo reality show, Work of Art, his 2010 “Baptism” went to auction at Phillips de Pury, selling for $20,000.

And now that Steve Martin has declared Stephen Colbert’s re-worked portrait, “a viable artwork” that “could be auctioned,” well: Phillips de Pury has snatched it up.

Created during a segment on The Colbert Report intended to promote guest Steve Martin’s latest book, An Object of Beauty, the portrait was gazed upon by Frank Stella, sprayed by Shepard Fairey, and then doodled upon and signed by Andre Serrano.

Asked what he’d done to improve it, Fairey told Colbert, “I made your agenda as an omnipotent quasi-fascist orator, and shaper of our politics and culture, that much more obvious as manipulation.”

In the brave company of other works of similarly dubious heft, like those of Donald Baechler and Dan Colen, Colbert’s mash-up will be on the block tomorrow. Though the Phillips de Pury  site describes the collaboration in hilarious art-speak,  the estimate is not ironic at $100,000.

Profits will go to DonorsChoose.org, an online charity designed to connect donors with classrooms in need.

Mr. Minor’s Winter of Discontent: Evening Sale at Phillips De Pury

Phillips de Pury & Company  The Richard Prince “Nurse” sold by Halsey Minor
Phillips de Pury & Company The Richard Prince “Nurse” sold by Halsey Minor

The spring auctions with their record sales prices swept a breath of fresh air into the fusty art markets, hunkered down as they were, bearish throughout the cold winter.

But the Thursday evening sale at Phillips de Pury stands as an ironic reminder that the winter of our discontent is not to be made glorious by the auction houses.

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ESSAY: How to Say Hirst Was First

Who's on first?

Heraclitus was right. When the waters are everflowing, you can never step into the same river twice.

It is therefore, always safe to claim that some work of art, some event, some person, is a “first” — nothing will be the same after so and so, after thus and such, after this.

The controversial Damien Hirst sale at Sotheby’s in 2008 was a first: the contemporary art market would never be the same afterward.

Go ahead and say that, Google it: you won’t lack for support. The press was, after all, in a frenzy, mounting stories about the show, Beautiful in My Mind Forever, and the subsequent two day sale, onto the background blitz of financial failures and the Lehman Brothers collapse.

But what kind of “first” was it?

Continue reading “ESSAY: How to Say Hirst Was First”

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