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?

Rob Pruitt's celebrity lookalikes series at Art Basel Unlimited
Rob Pruitt's celebrity lookalikes series at Art Basel Unlimited.

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.

Artist Alex Katz and Krusty Krab proprietor Squidward Tentacles

Artist Alex Katz and Krusty Krab proprietor Squidward Tentacles

Art collector François Pinault and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Art collector François Pinault and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and singer Rodriguez

Artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and singer Rodriguez

Artist Yayoi Kusama and Milla Jovovich in <em>The Fifth Element</em>

Artist Yayoi Kusama and Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element

The Fondation Beyeler's Thomas Keller and Mike Myers as Dr. Evil

The Fondation Beyeler’s Sam Keller and Mike Myers as Dr. Evil

Artist Bjarne Melgaard and the Thing from the Fantastic Four

Artist Bjarne Melgaard and the Thing from the Fantastic Four

Artist Mark Bradford and actor RuPaul

Artist Mark Bradford and actor RuPaul

Artist Ryan Trecartin and Jimmy Neutron

Artist Ryan Trecartin and Jimmy Neutron

Art dealer Carol Greene and singer Celine Dion

Art dealer Carol Greene and singer Celine Dion

Artists Space director Jay Sanders and <em>American Pie</em>'s Jason Biggs

Artists Space director Jay Sanders and American Pie‘s Jason Biggs

Art scion Harry Brant and actress Winona Ryder

Art scion Harry Brant and actress Winona Ryder

 

Curator Okwui Enwezor and singer Usher

Curator Okwui Enwezor and singer Usher

Art dealer Larry Gagosian and actor Bob Einstein

Art dealer Larry Gagosian and actor Bob Einstein

Artist Darren Bader and old Bob Dylan

Artist Darren Bader and old Bob Dylan

Artist Marina Abramovic and a brick wall

Artist Marina Abramovic and a brick wall

Art collector Aby Rosen and Louis XVI

Art collector Aby Rosen and Louis XVI

Art dealer Massimo De Carlo and Snapchat sensation DJ Khaled

Art dealer Massimo De Carlo and Snapchat sensation DJ Khaled

Artist Dan Colen and actor Harrison Ford

Artist Dan Colen and actor Harrison Ford

Artist Latoya Ruby Fraser and singer Toni Braxton

Artist Latoya Ruby Fraser and singer Toni Braxton

MoMA curator Laura Hoptmann and "Girls" creator Lena Dunham

MoMA curator Laura Hoptmann and “Girls” creator Lena Dunham

Art dealer Gavin Brown and actor and anti-fracking activist Mark Ruffalo

Art dealer Gavin Brown and actor and anti-fracking activist Mark Ruffalo

Art dealer Paula Cooper and actress Marisa Tomei

Art dealer Paula Cooper and actress Marisa Tomei

Artist Jasper Johns and actor Christopher Plummer

Artist Jasper Johns and actor Christopher Plummer

Artist Ai Weiwei and actor Craig Phillip Robinson

Artist Ai Weiwei and actor Craig Phillip Robinson

Artist Robert Longo and actor Dustin Hoffman

Artist Robert Longo and actor Dustin Hoffman

Artist Tauba Auerbach and <em>The Shining</em> actress Shelly Duvall

Artist Tauba Auerbach and The Shining actress Shelly Duvall

Curator Tom Eccles and Thomas Jefferson

Curator Tom Eccles and Andrew Jackson

Curator Pati Hertling and <em>A Clockwork Orange</em>'s Malcolm McDowell

Curator Pati Hertling and A Clockwork Orange‘s Malcolm McDowell

Art Basel director Marc Spiegler and notorious tunnel-loving narco kingpin El Chapo

Art Basel director Marc Spiegler and notorious tunnel-loving narco kingpin El Chapo

Artist Urs Fischer and artist Michael Madsen

Artist Urs Fischer and artist Michael Madsen

Protocinema founder Mari Spirito and actress Annette Bening

Protocinema founder Mari Spirito and actress Annette Bening

Damien Hirst and Bruce the shark from <em>Finding Nemo</em>

Damien Hirst and Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo

Unlimited curator Gianni Jetzer and actor Colin Farrell

Unlimited curator Gianni Jetzer and actor Colin Farrell

Artist Thomas Demand and comedian Louis C.K.

Artist Thomas Demand and comedian Louis C.K.

Art dealer Emmanuel Perrotin and crooner Serge Gainsbourg

Art dealer Emmanuel Perrotin and crooner Serge Gainsbourg

Collector Bernard Arnault and former President George W. Bush

Collector Bernard Arnault and former President George W. Bush

Artist Richard Serra and actor Marlon Brando in the role of Colonel Kurtz

Artist Richard Serra and actor Marlon Brando in the role of Colonel Kurtz

Artist Rachel Rose and actress Chloe Sevigny

Artist Rachel Rose and actress Chloe Sevigny

Art dealer Tony Shafrazi and Beethoven

Art dealer Tony Shafrazi and Beethoven

Artist John Baldessari and Papa Smurf

Artist John Baldessari and Papa Smurf

Artist Rob Pruitt and Bill Hader as "Saturday Night Live"'s Stefon

Artist Rob Pruitt and Bill Hader as “Saturday Night Live”‘s Stefon

Note: This story was updated on June 14 with details on the work’s acquisition. 


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share