a tale of a few cities

Ai Weiwei and the Five Finger Discount

Posted in appropriation, Art, auction, China, Conceptual Art, illustration, London, Painting, Sculpture by petercombe on July 19, 2011

Detail of Ai Wei Wei sunflower seeds from the Tate Modern in London

For the eleventh commission in the Tate Modern‘s Unilever Series, Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei had filled the museum’s Turbine Hall with millions of life-sized sunflower seed husks made out of porcelain. The collective effort of a number of specialists from Jingdezhen, China, the hand-crafted seeds were individually formed and painted. Before the museum was alerted to the installation’s dangers of lead paint and silica dust, visitors were encouraged to touch and walk on the carpet of tiny replicates. Before a barrier was erected around the perimeter of the installation, I wondered how many visitors were tempted to pilfer samples of the tiny seeds (see photo above). In February of this year Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening sale in London surpassed the $192,000 estimate, netting $559,394 for a 100-kilogram pile of Weiwei’s seeds. That puts worth of the stolen seeds pictured above at about $33.60.


Posted in humour, illustration, Post Modernism by petercombe on June 20, 2011

Jockohomo >

Gnome or Genome? The May 30th New Yorker Cover Art Begs The Question

Posted in Art, flora and fauna, illustration, new yorker, The Muses by petercombe on June 3, 2011

The May 30 cover of the New Yorker by Brooklyn, NY, based illustrator Peter de Seve, led me to believe that the art work was a sly and topical commentary on the deregulation of genetically altered foods in the market place today. I always look beneath the New Yorker’s table of contents to read the cover artwork’s title, often a witty play on words. I thought the placement of the ‘gnome’ to be a clever and symbolic use of wordplay, a reference to ‘genome’. Much to my surprise the art work was simply titled ‘Small Growers‘ with no reference to genome or GMO’s. Perhaps The Muses hijacked the artist’s creative process and coerced de Seves to produce this pictorially haunting double entendre.

%d bloggers like this: