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.”

The Law of Maximized Irony

I have a metaphysical theory that I call The Law of Maximized Irony:

In a nutshell, any set of initial circumstances will resolve to the state of greatest irony.

Case in point:

With increasing frequency we see incredulous stories about artists who’ve made careers out of cribbing other people’s work suing artists who have copied them. Is it flat out hypocrisy, or good business strategy — or both? Whatever is behind it, the story makes for a lot of really good laughs.

Check out my latest in Hyperallergic:

Is a Cease and Desist About Irony, Hypocrisy or Legal Strategy?

 

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,”…

Read More…

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.

Feel Free to Match the Couch: A Guide to Buying Art Online

Popping up, all over the internet, like bald little mushroom heads in the corner of an overgrown garden, are dozens of buy-art-online sites. Their spores are in the air. There’s a new one every day, with offerings that cover the whole gamut of affordability, quality and snob appeal.

It’s time to match the couch, my friends — shamelessly, and in the privacy of your own homes; the way you shop for porn.

BZA CO

Continue reading “Feel Free to Match the Couch: A Guide to Buying Art Online”

I Attended a Screening of Iron Man 2 Last Night

What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

Well, Pepper Potts has a thing for modern art: I noticed, not only the Barnett Newman she alludes to, but also a Motherwell and a very nice Giacometti.

There is a funny little scene when the very vain Tony Stark, having sold off half of the corporate art collection, pushes his luck by removing the Barnett Newman from the wall and replacing it with a poster of IRONMAN done in the style of Shepard Fairey.

I wonder if, within a round of art collecting jokes, it is fair use to copy Fairey’s now very recognizable treatment of the notorious Obama photo?

Oh and the fight scenes with Scarlett Johanson? Amazing.

Shepard Fairey Changes the Mainstream

wall
Before Shep got to it, the wall had been tagged.

The wall at Houston and Bowery has sported Keith Haring’s crawling babies, and Os Gemeos’ trippy amusment park: now it’s wearing something from the OBEY line of products: a wheatpaste collage in Shepard Fairey’s best and latest fascist poster colors. It’s looking good.

The wall will be finished in time to promote Fairey’s upcoming show at Deitch Projects, May Day: a series of portraits of revolutionary personages who, “started out on the margins of culture and ended up changing the mainstream.”

But a few steps too many into mainstream, and one may not end up changing it, but only changing how one makes money in it.

From the OBEY site
From the OBEY site

For example: the May Day show will reflect the incendiary mood of spray can and eaves-clinging guerilla art, with it’s tribute to political activism; in the meantime it will also serve to promote Shepard Fairey’s OBEY clothing line. And the OBEY clothing line, will spring a pop-up store on Orchard Street coinciding with the Deitch show, thus providing a promotional supplement to it.

As if there’s not enough money in all that marketing, recall that this will be Jeffrey Deitch’s last show at the Wooster street location before he closes shop and moves off to LA MOCA. The draw will already be huge.

Shepard Fairey, May Day
Deitch Projects | 18 Wooster Street, New York
May 01, 2010 — May 29, 2010

MORE SNEAK PEEKS at Flavorwire

OBEY Pop-Up Store
151 Orchard Street, New York
April 30 – May 16

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Addendum: On April 22, as Shepard Fairey and crew were clearing out and getting ready to go get some dinner after finishing the mural on Houston Street, I, and my husband, David Kaplan, a writer for PaidContent, stopped to chat with him. David asked him some questions about his law battles with the Associated Press. Here’s a link to the story.

Shepard Fairey: AP Suit Driven By ‘Crumbling Business Model’; AP To  Fairey: You’re The Hypocrite
by David Kaplan

RELEVANT LINKS:
Shep's Words on AP case

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SUPERTOUCH:
a nice little history of appropriation

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OPINION | Mr. Brainwash: Ce n’est pas un Banksy

There’s a sucker born every minute.
~ P.T. Barnum

MrBrainwash
Mr. Brainwash always has paint on his hand.

Banksy’s latest assault is Exit Through the Gift Shop, a mockumentary or fauxdoc, perhaps, that alleges to be about one Mr. Brainwash, aka Thierry Guetta, madman filmmaker and god-awful artist.

Guetta, is, apparently a nutter who attached himself to the famous street artist, following him (and other notable street artists) around for ten years or so and obtaining enough undesirable footage to force Banksy pay some attention. When he did, the story goes, he turned the camera on Guetta himself  and told him to go make his own art.

Continue reading “OPINION | Mr. Brainwash: Ce n’est pas un Banksy”

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