Kanye West Teams Up With Judy Chicago, TikToker Gets $25K Offers for Probably Fake Banksys, and More Art-World Gossip
Plus, which artist blasted the New Yorker for trying to cancel New Years? What painter is now on an exclusive dating app? Read on for answers.
Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].
FINALLY, THE JUDY CHICAGO–KANYE WEST COLLAB WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR
Further proving Kanye West‘s thorough passion for his hometown, the rapper (who was recently spotted with artist, actress, and influencer Julia Fox) has tapped none other than Judy Chicago as a creative consultant, adding the 82-year-old Conceptualist to the litany of visual artists with whom he’s collaborated.
“The request totally came out of the blue,” Chicago told yours truly. Wet Paint can exclusively reveal that West saw her work while flipping through an iPhone folder featuring images of artworks he finds inspiring.
Chicago agreed to consult on the visuals for his benefit concert at the Los Angeles Coliseum for Larry Hoover, the leader of Chicago’s Gangster Disciples. (Hoover has been locked up in Colorado’s federal Supermax prison serving multiple life sentences, and has endured long periods of solitary confinement.)
“My work has long been a way for me to bring attention to inequality, educate viewers, and empower them to make change,” said Chicago, who designed a new cloudscape piece for the rappers’ 90 minute-set, which was streamed to the masses on Amazon and Twitch.
“I hope my contributions brought some joy to those attending the concert as well as continuing the needed dialogue on addressing criminal justice reform in this country and around the world.”
BANKSY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Generations of the art-inclined have discussed appropriation’s role and value in art. The Andy Warhol estate landed in court over the artist’s use of a photo originally taken by Lynn Goldsmith. Richard Prince has made a career—and a few scandals—out of borrowing Instagram posts and other imagery. And Sturtevant, even after her death, makes museum-goers second guess her iconic artworks. (Are they really her works?)
All of these artists found great success by pushing the boundaries of appropriation. Now, Wet Paint would like to introduce a very unlikely new voice in this arena: TikTok star @colalex, born Colleen Alexander.
Let’s back up a bit. In November, Alexander, a 26-year-old New Yorker, posted a video explaining that she may have had an encounter with none other than Banksy himself.
“Okay, I hope this is kind of coherent, I’m like, shaking,” she begins.
In the video, which has garnered 8.3 million views, she describes going into the 8th Avenue and 14th Street subway stop (the one right below the Whitney Museum) and meeting a man whose face was obscured by his mask.
“I didn’t want to film, because I just… I respect if it was, you know, Banksy,” she says.
And why would it be Banksy? Because he was selling works that looked like iconic pieces by the mystery artist. Alexander bought two—one of a mouse strapped to a parachute, and another of the Mona Lisa toting a bazooka—for $60 a pop.
She described the man to Wet Paint as “male, maybe 5’7.” I couldn’t tell you what race he was because he was covered, but I think he was not white. But I couldn’t get a good look.”
“Maybe I fell for an elaborate tourist trap, or maybe I made the best decision of my life,” she said on TikTok.
Ah, to be young and innocent. Obviously, if you’re behind this paywall, you don’t need a Sotheby’s degree to know that Banksy is a white Brit, and that Alexander likely bought… well, not fakes, but works in the manner of, shall we say?
But she’s not the butt of any joke. In fact, I am incredibly envious of her savvy, because she revealed to me that she has been offered up to $25,000 each for the pieces (!).
“I have other people offering a couple hundred for me to buy a new piece from the same seller,” she told me. “It’s just wild to me that people don’t even know if they’re authentic, but the value is still there.”
Wild, indeed. Alexander wouldn’t reveal to me the names of the collectors making those fantastic offers, but she says she not selling, anyway—at least not anytime soon. I would have taken the money, but Alexander sees something deeper.
“Assigning value to something that means something to me is the whole point of art,” she said. “It’s fun, too. I think there’s a ton of value in these. I think Banksy and his team would appreciate how I’ve approached this whole thing.” No doubt about that.
*** Vik Muniz getting haughty in the comments section of the New Yorker’s call to “Cancel New Years Forever,: writing: “Oh, please. What about birthdays and historical and religious dates? Off with them too?” *** Annie Hamilton schlepping an Al Freeman, Jr. soft sculpture over her shoulder *** George Condo on the exclusive(ish) dating app Raya, with a bio that begins “I’m only interested in quality” *** Richard Karn, former star of Home Improvement, boldly and adorably declaring that he will not be making a NFT *** Eileen Myles eviscerating Patti Smith in the comments of her Instagram for accepting a key to the city of New York on the same day that Bill de Blasio tore down Myles’ beloved East River Park ***
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K.O. Nnamdie is officially the director of Anonymous Gallery’s New York space … Keith McNally’s son, Harry McNally, is engaged to Steven Spielberg’s daughter, Sasha Spielberg … Photographer Liz Nielsen is now represented by Miles McEnery, making her the first photographer on the gallery’s roster …
WET PAINT IN THE WILD
Unfortunately, the very premise of this section has been pretty well kiboshed by the new COVID-19 variant. (Please stay safe out there, everyone! If I’m not out partying right now you know it must be bad.)
Fortunately, there are safe ways to go out on the town, so instead of my usual tour, I passed along my Kodak Funsaver to writer/filmmaker/artist/multi-hyphenate cool person Aria Dean so she could take me through a week in her life. And she did not disappoint!
Looks like an average week in the life of Aria Dean includes the beloved Italian spot Forlini‘s, some light academic reading, and Zoom calls. Artists, they’re just like us! Take it away, Aria:
Omicron (also known as Omarion, also known as Omnichrome, also known OMG) New York has been quiet. Between people going home for the holidays (love to the lucky ones who hopped flights out of the city as soon as anyone within six degrees of separation had as much as a cough) and those of us who got the variant (moi), the city was a no man’s land over the holidays. But New Years’ Eve brought hope! Here are some pics of the vestibular and honestly rather uneventful but very sweet and special few days leading into 2022.
From what I can recall, every time I go near Bingham and Sam, they are talking about some César Aira book they’re both hyped on, but I haven’t read it, so I cyclically drift away.
Either due to the mushrooms or being relatively out of practice when it comes to New Years parties, things feel confused as midnight rolls around. Definitely not the traditional raucous–however corny–countdown. Everyone’s a little bit demure. But again, it might be the mushrooms. It doesn’t feel sad, but there’s an air of uncertainty. Another year? Whatever, fine. Time spread. Hugs and kisses are exchanged and the party rolls on. Maybe some more mushrooms after this. People settle in on the floor of the apartment. More people show up, some people leave.
Intermission as I drift into 2022. New Year’s Day is basically white noise, neutralized by party aftershock. I actually don’t remember what I did at all. I think I watched a movie or two.
I forget the camera at home on the 2nd, which would have been a nice day for some photos.
On this day, my first functional act of the year: I go to the city and see friends. With some time to kill between engagements I go look for a scarf I abandoned at Clandestino the previous week; no luck (grey chunky knit Agnes B. if you see it). More time to kill, I stop into Aeon on E. Broadway. I come across two much-needed basics–Kenneth Frampton’s Modern Architecture: A Critical History and Sigfried Kracauer’s From Caligari to Hitler. Books I’ve been using in pdf form for years; and you just hate to be stuck with a pdf, especially when you’re coming back to something regularly. Third book: this Lucy Lippard novel I wasn’t aware of. It’s cool so far.
WET PAINT QUESTIONNAIRE
The questionnaire is back for the new year! And to get it kicked off, my question for you is this: If you had to take a guess who offered to buy the fake Banksy’s off of @colalex, who do you think it was?
I have my answer. I can’t wait to hear yours.
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