Artist of the Week 07/25/05
Let's back up. "Bob and Roberta Smith" is the psuedonym of British artist Patrick Brill (which sounds like a fake art name as well, to me, but...). He chose "Bob Smith" as his art name (reportedly as a rebuke to Julian Snabel) because it sounded "unglamourous," and when he first started out he worked as a duo with his sister Roberta (not sure if that was her real name), but she later dropped out, and he kept the name. For art world insiders, this odd double name is doubly intriguing, as Roberta Smith is also the name of one of the world's most powerful art critics (for The New York Times).
Bob and Roberta Smith (hereafter known as "Smith" for my sanity's sake) is currently represented by the awesome Hales Gallery in London (although the last exhibition I saw of Smith's in London was with Anthony Wilkinson Gallery, in which, among other cultural heroes he quite throughougly lamblasted, I somewhat recall a button that read, more or less, "Will any of the Beatles Make it to 64?" ).
Smith is the quinitessential artist making disparaging art about the art world. Even his most harsh sentiments, though, seem tinged with a bitter-sweet sense of why artists are important. At his last exhibition at Pierogi in Williamsburg (reportedly the neighborhood with more artists per capita than any other in the world), he had visitors sign the following:
And he had a dumpster parked outside the gallery where artists could dump their work and, one assumes, aspirations. Called an "art amnesty," Smith encouraged locals to
For Gods sake get a life, and more importantly GET A F***CKING PROPER JOB. ARTISTS. PACK IT IN. HAND OVER YOUR DUD WORK, EASELS AND MATERIALS AT PIEROGI.This piece more or less says it all:
Smith's own website is like a curiosity shop itself. One of my favorite pieces on it is this BBC-hosted interactive piece called "Speak Bob" where you can compose your own word (?)/phrases (?) in Smith's made-up language. It's totally absurd and hilarious, just like most of his other projects.