the best art in art basel is definitely these celebrity art look-a-likes
Rob Pruitt’s latest work marries art world stars with their celeb look-a-likes in the funniest display at Art Basel. Who knew Damien Hirst looked like the shark in Finding Nemo?
This article was originally published by i-D UK
Rob Pruitt makes funny art. It's conceptual art that you want to laugh with rather than at. He's a piss-taker who loves art and finds its pretensions LOL as well as endearing. His past trolling has even landed him in hot water - he was unceremoniously barred from the art world for a 1992 exhibition that drew accusations of racism for its use of images of black celebrities. Although critics panned it at the time, he claimed his work was a celebration of the diversity of black cultural figures, and it's since become, despite the controversy, something of landmark. Afterwards, he couldn't get an exhibition anywhere. Then he had to work for Martha Stewart.
But that didn't stop him. In the late 90s he made a peace offering -- putting a 16ft line of cocaine in an art gallery -- and he was welcomed back to the art world with open arms.
Since then he's released a book and staged an exhibition called 101 Art Ideas You Can Do Yourself, which was full of fun conceptual art projects you could make at home (17. Sell an art collector the key to your house). He paints pictures of pandas. He runs an eBay store that you can buy his work on. He made a giant sculpture of Andy Warhol. Sometimes he uses an urn containing his dad's ashes in his work. All trés droll.
For his latest ride on art world merry go round in Art Basel in Basel (sometimes it's in Miami or Hong Kong) he brought his Instagram-based work, a marriage of art world doyennes and their celebrity look-a-likes, to Gavin Brown's booth. The diptychs covered all of the gallery's walls. Who knew David Hockney looked so much like Iris Apfel? Or that Damien Hirst bears such a strong resemblance to the shark from Finding Nemo? John Baldessari and Papa Smurf? Inspired. Marina Abramovic and a brick wall? Very on point. Italian gallerist Massimo de Carlo and DJ Khaled? Strangely uncanny. Yayoi Kusama and Milla Jovovich as Leeloo Minaï Lekatariba-Laminaï-Tchaï Ekbat de Sebat? Bet you won't be able to look at one of her polka dot squashes without thinking "multi-pass" now. See the rest here.
Text Felix Petty