Polyester is Forever

October 7, 2015

Sotheby’s has reportedly sold a print of Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1980 photograph “Man in a Polyester Suit” for nearly a half million dollars ($478,000).


There are at least two things that this sale shows.  One, the increasing value of photographic works.  Two, despite the attempt to exploit art as a political tool, Jesse Helms and right wing conservatives ultimately failed.  Helms is dead and Mapplethorpe’s work lives on.

Artsbeat | New York Times

J.Paul Getty Museum Collection


Free Admission to PS1 for the Year

October 7, 2015

Today MOMA PS1 has announced that admission to PS1 will be free for New York City residents for the year, beginning on October 11th.  The free admission is the gift of Marina Kellen French, made in “honor of all New York City artists” and coincides with the 40th anniversary of PS1.

PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, and is usually open from noon to 6pm Thursday through Monday (closed Tuesday & Wednesdays).  It’s not clear yet as to how or if residency will be checked at the door, so consider taking a license or the NYC ID card.

For more information, see the PS1 press release at:  http://press.moma.org/2015/10/free-momaps1-admission-for-new-yorkers/


USPTO Cancels Racist Team Trademark

June 18, 2014

In a landmark ruling issued today, the USPTO has cancelled trademarks of the Washington R******* football team, finding that the terms and images were disparaging to Native Americans.  The marks were registered between 1967 and 1990.  While cancelling the team’s trademark registrations, the Board noted that it does not have authority to prevent the actual use of the marks, which includes the offensive words and images.  Thus, it appears that anyone can now use those racist words and images, without implications of trademark infringement.  However, the best course is to relegate them to history, and the Washington team should start looking for a new and dignified name…with Atlanta baseball following suit.


The case is  Blackhorse v. Pro-Football (Amanda Blackhorse, Marcus Briggs-Cloud, Philip Gover, Jillian Pappan, and Courtney Tsotigh v. Pro-Football, Inc.), Cancellation No. 92046185, June 18, 2014


The Board’s decision is worth reading and it is here:


More coverage at Think Progress, New York Times, Washington Post

The Evolution of Art

August 25, 2012

Although it is fundamental that new art builds upon that of the past, it is not often that we have a clear and obvious example of this with near-immediate worldwide effect. Fortuitously, a new artwork, la Nueva version de Ecce Homo de Borja (AKA Furry Jesus) demonstrates that process quite literally.  The new work was physically constructed upon the old.

Both the new and old Ecce Homo are located in the Santuario de la Misericordia in Borja, Spain.  Although the city of Borja has apparently initiated plans to attempt a “restoration” of the foundational version of Ecce Homo by Elias Garcia Martinez, an online petition (several actually) have arisen in an effort to stop the hasty removal of the nueva Ecce Homo by Cecilia Gimenez.  One petition author suggests that the new work represents a subtle criticism of the church’s theology, creationism particularly.    The work can also be interpreted as a comment upon modern copyright law.  As a conceptual piece, (nueva) Ecce Homo is not only a physical work; the act of creating the work itself is fundamental aspect of its meaning.


In Artifactum’s view, we should not rush to erase la nueva [version de] Ecce Homo.  The place of this new work in the history of art and its value to world culture should be preserved.  Please consider signing the petition:


Additional coverage:

Huffington Post

New York Times

The Colbert Report

A Reprieve for Public Education?

April 24, 2012

According to SFGate, there is a new collaborative effort between public and private interests to restore art programs in California’s public schools.  Art education in California schools has declined since the passage of the notorious Proposition 13 in the 1970s and prior attempts to restore art programs have not been fully successful.  The circumstances apparently became worse in 2009 when schools were no longer required to use ‘art funds’ for actual art education programs.  With the budget shortages the funds were often allocated, by schools, to other areas.  Governor Gerry Brown is in support of the plan to restore art education.

Read more:  Effort Afoot to Restore Art in California Schools, Jill Tucker, SFGate.com, 4/23/2012