Bearing a striking resemblance to Artenol's Spring 2016 cover, Jim Pallas' interactive sculpture, "Tulips," also offers commentary on art just as the magazine does. Jim Pallas photo

Van Gogh’s ear

Having been a fan of iconoclast Alex Melamid for 25 years and seeing your brilliant, shaped ’zine cover with a hole drilled in Mr. van Gogh’s ear, I have to share my latest interactive sculpture.

Called “Tulips,” it represents Vincent’s painted “Self Portrait with Straw Hat” (1887). The sculpture consists of only the surfaces necessary to recreate that image. The backs of those surfaces are coated with dollar bills. Van Gogh’s ear is slotted to accept a penny which triggers an audio event. Of 161 audio events in the sculpture, about 120 are accounts of the art-related activities of the super rich: auctions, exhibits, gossip, stories and investment reports of the high end art market. All of these snippets are presented by synthesized voices. The remaining 41 audios are spoken by an artist with a Dutch American accent. They consist of observations about art, life and creativity from an artist’s view point and are distributed randomly amongst the 120.

Why the title “Tulips”? Brussels 1657: The Spanish? Gone! The Church? Out!  Aristocracy? Pussycats!  Long live the bourgeois. 17th-century ships arriving with exotic goods. Tulips are shipped from Turkey. Bulb prices rise. Important burghers vie for social status and profitable bulb flipping. Auction prices skyrocket.

Everyone with extra money is buying tulip futures. A single bulb goes for 10 times a skilled craftsman’s yearly earnings. But at one Sunday afternoon auction, the bidders don’t show up. Panic spreads. Everyone is selling. Bulb prices bottom out at their intrinsic value, farmer’s prices. Tulipmania slips into tulip depression.

The piece also parallels Artenol’s take on the contemporary art world. Common sense? Gone! Taxes? Get serious! Financial regulators? Toothless dogs! Long live the 1 percent! Galleries are filled with novel, pretty, exotic art. Prices skyrocket. Status and flipping.

Shiny metal balloon dogs. Words from movies painted on paper. Sweat shops in London and Peking gushing out paintings signed by men proud of their  clean fingernails. A single artwork goes for 20 times a skilled teacher’s yearly earnings.

But at one Sunday afternoon auction ...

Jim Pallas

Via email

April 28, 2016

Cease and desist

Dear Mr. Melamid,

The Picasso Administration has informed us that your project, the Art Healing Ministry, includes sales of unauthorized Picasso merchandise. These items may be found at the following link: arthealingministry.org/store. Please find a list and images of these items attached.

Such unauthorized use of works by Pablo Picasso is in violation of the copyrights and trademarks owned by the Picasso Administration.

We ask that you remove the Pablo Picasso products from the Art Healing Ministry shop and cease and desist from all other uses of reproductions of works by Pablo Picasso.

Please promptly contact us to resolve this matter amicably and prevent the need for formal proceedings to enforce our client’s rights in this matter.

Adrienne R. Fields

Artists Rights Society

July 6, 2011

Read many other stories in the Summer 2016 issue of Artenol. Order yours today

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