Art in the City: Having Words With Chelsea

On West 24th Street, between Avenues Tenth and Eleventh, hanging from a portion of the Highline, sits a west-facing billboard that advertises neither couture clothing nor beer nor cars. This billboard, stark in appearance, with black typefaced quips on a white background, is the project of Patrick Mimran a French painter/photographer/composer/musician/multimedia artist who’s been working since the 1980s on the international scene.

In a style that recalls Jenny Holzer, the phrases are intended to spark discussion about art and about the art industry and they range from the idealist “Make Art Not Love” to the antagonistic “to an art dealer ‘good’ means ‘easy-to-sell’.” The placement of the billboard in the center of New York’s commercial gallery neighborhood is not accidental. The dicta almost all beset, on some level, the area’s culture of art supply and demand, the tendency of dealers, and consequently artists, to often cater to their audience to a point where the art is lost.  

This state of affairs not withstanding — and I certainly won’t argue against this conception of the art world — Mimran’s billboards are sometimes so aggressively pointed at the art sales machine of Chelsea and those involved that they seem near hysterical. “Most art is far too expensive for 99.9% of the people and far too cheap for the remaining 0.1%.” In addition, the conspicuous placement of the artist’s name in large red type at the bottom of each pasting brings into question where the focus of the readers interest should be: in what is said, or who has said it. Fortunately, this does not completely undermine Mimram’s intent, as each one of these billboards gets people thinking and talking about the implications of our increasingly mercantile position towards art.

The billboard is changed on a fairly regular basis. For more information about Patrick Mimran’s billboard and other projects visit:


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