Saturday, June 12, 2010


Parody (also called send-up or spoof), in contemporary usage, is a work created to mock, comment on, or poke fun at an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation. -Wikipedia

Damien Hirst is a British artist best known for cutting up animals and displaying them in "vitrines". In the 1990s he became one of the leading figures of the "Young British Artists" and shot to fame with the help of "super collector" Charles Saatchi

Parody has a long history in art. From political cartoons of politicians to humorous paintings of self-aggrandizing individuals, artists have used their medium and their wit to call attention to the absurdities of those who they deem ridiculous, who take themselves too seriously, or who commit heinous and unconscionable acts. In recent years, parody has again taken a front seat in popular culture. Television shows like the Colbert Report (which mocks popular political pundits) to the Simpsons (which satirizes everything from the family to celebrities) have hit a nerve with the public. In these shows, "wit" is directy toward "folly".

Julie Harvey, Charles Saatchi, 2005

Charles Saatichi was the cofounder of Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency until 1995. He is known as a "super collector" and owner of Saatchi Gallery. He helped boost the careers of many artists including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

Similarly, a few artists have begun to create works which poke fun of the things that they deem worthy. A good example of this are Julie Harvey's "Go-Go Nudes", a series created in 2005. In these paintings, Harvey parodies big name artists, art dealers, and art promoters to spotlight them as media hounds and sensationalists. She does this by creating naked portraits of the subjects in silly poses. At the time of their creation, Harvey also created what one could think of as an interactive performing art piece choreographed to compliment the paintings. On March 11. 2005 Ms. Harvey hosted an art show entitled "Julie Harvey's Go-Go Party". It can be found here but is best described as an Austin Powers extravaganza with actors and dancers who schmoozed with guests. "
Julie Harvey, Tony Shafrazi, 2005

Tony Shafrazi is the owner of Shafrazi Art Gallery in New York. Although he handles the works of many art luminaries such as Francis Bacon and Keith Harring, he is best known for spray painting "Kill Lies All" on Picasso's Guernica. He said he did this to protest the commuted sentence of William Calley (who was sentenced for his role in the My Lai massacre) by Richard Nixon. Later, Shafrazi became the Shah of Iran's art advisor and assembled a 20th century collection on his behalf.

What does all of this have to do with appraising and valuing art? The fact is, every person involved in putting a value on items must understand what is going on in the marketplace as well what trends are becoming "hot" in popular culture. To understand the marketplace, appraisers must understand what subjects interest those who are willing to buy art. Although Julie Harvey's series, Go-Go Nudes caters to those who "know" the art world, it also speaks to the larger popular trend of "parody".

In case you are wondering, Julie Harvey's works range from $7,000-$14,000 depending on size. Her work is carried at Bernarducci Meisel Gallery on West 57th Street in New York. You can find it by clicking on "featured artists" here.

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