3 Ridiculous Stunts by Contemporary Artists

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This week we're lucky to have guest blogger Elizabeth Lunday, author of Secret Lives of Great Artists: What Your Teachers Never Told You about Master Painters and Sculptors, spilling the dirt on the artists you thought you knew. We'll let her take it from here:

BY ELIZABETH LUNDAY. As you get into postmodernism and contemporary art, the artists seem to only get more outrageous. Here are some examples of the weird and wild behavior of 20th century artists:

1. Andy Warhol does the Love Boat?

Picture 22.pngIf Andy Warhol believed in anything, he believed in fame. He studied fame, analyzed it, dissected it—and did everything he could to promote his own. That's why he didn't hesitate for a second when invited to guest star on, believe it or not, The Love Boat. That's right—in 1985, Andy Warhol set a course for adventure on the Pacific Princess. Naturally, he played himself. The plot of the episode concerns a Midwestern housewife played by Marion Ross (yes, Mrs. Cunningham from Happy Days), who is startled to find Warhol on board since she doesn't want her husband, played by Tom Bosley (aka Mr. Cunningham) to know that in her dark and misty past she hung out at Warhol's Factory in New York. A sample bit of dialogue: Warhol wanders the deck with a camera, and Isaac the bartender quips, "When did Andy Warhol become the ship's photographer?" Cue laugh track.

2. How Salvador Dalí Almost Killed Himself in a PR Stunt

Salvador Dalí made a career out of being a weirdo. For example, once at a lecture in London titled "Paranoia, the Pre-Raphaelites, Harpo Marx, and Phantoms," Dalí made a magnificent entrance, as usual. Holding two white Russian wolfhounds on a leash in one hand and a billiard cue in the other, he was dressed in an old-fashioned diving suit and helmet topped with a Mercedes radiator cap. He tried to speak, but then realized that, without a suppy of oxygen to the helmet, he was unable to breathe. The audience blithely watched him struggle for air, thinking it was part of the act, but finally friends realized something was amiss. They frantically attempted to hammer the bolts off the helmet. Finally a stagehand arrived with a wrench and rescued the nearly suffocated Dalí.

3. Frida Kahlo's Guide to Harassing Capitalists

In the 1930s, when Frida Kahlo's husband Diego Rivera worked primarily on mural commissions in the U.S., Kahlo kept herself entertained by deliberately shocking their establishment hosts. At the home of Henry Ford's sister, she talked enthusiastically about Communism; when she learned another hostess was a devout Catholic, she made sarcastic quips about the Church. And when invited to a formal dinner at the home of Ford, an avowed anti-Semite, she waited for a quiet moment at the dining room table, then turned to him and asked sweetly, "Mr. Ford, are you Jewish?"

secret lives of artists.pngCome back tomorrow for more great artist stories. And be sure to check out Elizabeth's wonderful new book Secret Lives of Great Artists: What Your Teachers Never Told You about Master Painters and Sculptors.

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March 13, 2009 - 9:34am
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