Almost three years ago now, a suite of ten Athlete paintings [plus one] by Andy Warhol was stolen from the Bel Air dining room of collector Richard Weisman. In an effort to help find them, I created a grass-roots campaign via the then-new service Kickstarter, to print giant versions of the LAPD Art Crimes Division’s utterly awesome wanted poster, and to post them all over the world, wherever Warhols were traded or shown.
Unfortunately, that Kickstarter campaign failed. And the Warhols remain missing, though Weisman has stopped cooperating with police, complicating their investigation.
And though it’s unlikely that I was the first to run an unsuccessful campaign, I could at least feel a sense of accomplishment at being the first to use a Kickstarter campaign as a medium for art critical commentary.
And that was that until a few months ago, when the noted Swiss designer and publisher Lex Trueb contacted me, and asked if I would mind his including my Find The Warhols poster project in an exhibition in London.
The Museum of Design Zurich had invited Trueb and 11 other designers to participate in London – Zurich Posters, an exhibition at the House of Switzerland London, a national pop-up venue for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Rather than create some sportsy thing from scratch, Trueb was more interested in appropriating an existing sports- or Olympics-themed poster design of some kind. The Find The Warhols wanted poster, he thought, would fit the bill nicely.
Trueb made his proposal to the curators, they went for it, and though I haven’t seen installation shots yet to see how it turned out, Lex says the giant-size poster looks pretty awesome. He laid a brief statement of mine along the side of the poster for a bit of context, but otherwise, it’s entirely true to the LAPD’s great tradition of stolen art wanted poster design.
As someone who’s been appropriating or copying or re-creating stuff originally made by others for a while now, it’s been an interesting experience having a proposal of mine [albeit an appropriated one] appropriated by someone else. Whatever trepidation I might have had about it can’t compare to the amazement at the serendipity of Lex’s interest and his show and the rather incredible context. His respect and seriousness about my own relationship and project vis a vis this found object poster is also above and beyond. He could have easily tracked down the original poster and stuck it in his show, and I’d probably be none the wiser. But he’s been awesome. The moral is, when someone takes you and your idea seriously enough to appropriate it, it can be a net positive for everyone.
Anyway, if you’re in London before the 12th, and near Southwark, maybe looking for a place to watch Federer play for Switzerland’s first gold medal, please check out the poster show and tell me how it looks.
London – Zurich Poster Exhibition, through 12 August 2012 [houseofswitzerland.org]