Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Reading: Celebreadymade Art

Coca-Cola-Art_Andy-Warhol_Marilyn-Monroe1 I’ve already shared my fascination with James Franco’s bizarre career-slash-performance-art thing he has going on, but now it seems there may be a movement larger than just one man’s transformation into living art exhibit.

To examine this trend, Slate’s Ben Davis fashioned a slide show of what he dubs “celebreadymade” art.  His term marries Duchamp’s “readymade” art with the celebrity-focused work of Andy Warhol.  “Today’s artists,” argues Davis, “take Warhol’s affection for the tropes of celebrity culture to its logical conclusion, using famous people themselves as found objects.”

The beau of Davis’s pop art ball is Italy’s Francesco Vezzoli.  His modus operandi is putting celebrities in parodies of celebrity-like situations: Courtney Love and Helen Mirren in a promo for a film version of Caligula that isn’t real, Sharon Stone in a satire of political advertising, and Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams fighting over a nonexistent perfume dubbed Greed.  After Vezzoli staged an absurdist musical performance starring Lady Gaga, he told MTV, “My wish is that the entertainment industry makes love more often with the art industry.”  So he’s basically playing the role of postmodern matchmaker.

Perhaps why I’m so intrigued by this wave of pop performance art is that, after all, crafting a successful piece of entertainment is in itself an art.  Why can’t we frame that and put it on display?