The Most Hilarious Work in Art Basel Is by Rob Pruitt, and You Can See It Here
Who knew art world celebrity lookalikes could be so incredibly spot on... and so wickedly funny?
The artist Rob Pruitt is a pretty funny guy on most days, but he’s really outdone himself at Art Basel Unlimited this year: he’s filled a gallery top to bottom with pictures of the art world’s most powerful players… and their too-perfect celebrity lookalikes.
Started as a project on the artist’s Instagram and now gathered in a book, the series—titled Rob Pruitt’s Official Art World/Celebrity Look-Alikes—has wicked fun at the expense of everyone up and down the food chain. It also comes with some gallery history: a decade ago, Pruitt’s dealer, Gavin Brown, dabbled in the art-celebrity arena by displaying a wall-to-wall show of art-world photographer Patrick McMullan’s society snaps at the now-defunct Passerby. (Brown also shared a booth at Frieze New York a few years back with his own celebrity doppelgänger, Mark Ruffalo, who incidentally contributes a text to Pruitt’s new book.)
The work was purchased on the fair’s first VIP preview day for an undisclosed price by the art advisor Lisa Schiff on behalf of a client. In the short term, Schiff says, the plan is to display a selection of 20 of the diptychs in the collector’s dining room, offering plenty of fodder for conversation and chuckles over dinner. In the long term, “we will try to lend it—we will loan this whenever, wherever,” she says. Schiff calls the work “genius on every level,” encoded with references to Andy Warhol, the art world’s self-obsession, and even facial recognition software (though the pairings were in fact done by Pruitt and his studio staff the old-fashioned way, by pinning images on the wall).
In any case, enough preamble! Here, for your viewing enjoyment, is a generous assortment of pairings from the fair.
Note: This story was updated on June 14 with details on the work’s acquisition.
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