Monday, May 7, 2012

Celando Sfatato


Last week after I left for NYC, Eileen Gunn wrote to ask if I'd found any Higgs bosons.  Well, no, I didn't.  But I found something equally odd.

I was in the Museum of Modern Art and in the hallway between the contemporary gallery and the cafe, saw the above piece.  Contemplate it for a moment.  The white-painted wooden man is about two feet high and is the only artwork on a long and otherwise blank well.  The label is placed somewhere beteen waist and chest level.

If you google the artist's name you'll come up with exactly zero hits.

Which means that somebody bought a ticket into MOMA, sat down on the bench and, removing pieces from his pocket, casually assembled the artwork.  Then, surreptitiously, he glued the label to the wall.  You can tell the label is not official because it's just a little crooked and the font doesn't match that on the museum's other labels.

I applaud this work of fraudulent art, minor though it may be.  If it achieves nothing else, it demonstrates that you don't have to be an overachiever to get your work shown in a world-class museum.



springer said...

Google translate has the artist's name rendered into English as "Concealing Debunked."

Nice catch.

Frederick Paul Kiesche III said...

That's hilarious. I'm going to have to show this to my wife (the art history major)!

David Stone said...

So... are you going to do this with one of yours?

Frank Böhmert said...

Perhaps it's a kind of meta art business art and someone really sold it to the museum to exhibit it under a funny pseudonym so everybody just thinks it's a fake but it isn't ... Augh, my mind is whirling.

Michael Swanwick said...

The funny thing is that I spotted the piece because after several hours of viewing contemporary art, it simply LOOKED wrong. Given how deliberately crude much contemporary art is, I can't explain that.

David, I was extremely tempted years ago, when I saw some of Richard Prince's "appropriation" photos (photographs of iconic works by great photographers, with Prince credited as their creator) in I forget which museum -- either the Carnegie or the Philadelphia Museum of Art -- to make labels crediting the photos to myself, paste them over the originals, and wait to see how long it took for the alteration to be discovered. But I didn't. I have these impulses all the time and only rarely give in to them.

Michael Swanwick said...

Oh, and thank you, springer. It was a good thought to look.

HANNAH'S DAD said...

The danger with artistic fakery is that it might not end up being fake.

Have you heard of Ern Malley? He was a fictitious self taught modernist poet dreamed up to embarrass an Australian literary journal - with great success. He was hailed as a major discovery until the story of the prank came out.

It's the sort of thing which sounds like a great lark, but I read abook about the affair, and it was both sadder and more interesting than it sounds on the surface.

Michael Swanwick said...

There was an artist as well, I forget his name, who painted a series of mockeries of impressionist art that were glowingly reviewed. Late in life and not terribly successful, he admitted that was the direction he should have gone in.