Art Pranks

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Giant Crisco Can Helps Ease the Pain in Detroit

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Satire

Submitted by Danny Rollingstone on the AOTP Facebook page:

Update: City Trashes Crisco Can Artist Installed At Fist To ‘Ease Bankruptcy Pain’
by Bill McGraw
July 29, 2013

Update, Monday, Aug. 4: BuzzFeed names the Crisco can among the best street art for 2013.


In what he said was a gesture of sympathy to a bankrupt city, a Detroit artist jumped out of his pickup truck early Tuesday at Woodward and Jefferson and deposited an oversized replica of a Crisco can at the base of the Joe Louis fist.

That is art in an Andy Warhol sort of way, even though most of the commuters roaring past at 7:15 a.m. did not appear to be aware that they had witnessed a real live installation, even if it was off-the-wall to the point of obscurity. And it’s also uncertain if other passersby will get the humor and irony behind the can, whose top bore a striking resemblance to the wavy, white, greasy substance in a real Crisco container.

Update, 1:47 p.m.: City officials say they plan to remove the Crisco can because they see it as “abandoned property.” It was gone by 2 p.m. (more…)

Onze helden zijn terug! Our heroes are back! [English & Dutch]

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Publicity Stunts

From Erin:

This flashmob recreates Rembrandt’s Night Watch, one of the most famous paintings in the world.

The slogan ‘Our Heroes are Back’ is used to announce that, after an absence of one decade, all major pieces in the Rijksmuseum’s collection are back where they belong. This is what happens when they suddenly emerge in an unsuspecting shopping mall somewhere in The Netherlands.

13 april gaat het Rijksmuseum open en komen Het melkmeisje, Jan Steen, De Nachtwacht en alle andere helden weer terug. Dit is wat er gebeurt als ze plotseling opduiken in een nietsvermoedend winkelcentrum. Ga naar

Joey Skaggs at Advertising Week EU 2013

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, What Makes a Good Prank?

More coverage:


  • Mark Borkowski on Joey Skaggs – ‘the world’s biggest prankster’, The Drum
  • Joey Skaggs: novelty silliness and well-packaged rebellion, New Statesman
  • Joey Skaggs on “Loose Ends”, BBC Radio4 – Only two days left to listen
  • Norm Magnusson’s NY State Thruway Project on Kickstarter

    Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism

    From artist Norm Magnusson: I’m raising funds on Kickstarter for a project to install one of my ‘historical’ markers in each of the 27 travel plazas of the New York State Thruway. I’d love you to join me in this project. The Kickstarter campaign runs through March 20, 2013.

    MagnussonImage-200These are sculptures of cast aluminum and acrylic paint. They look just like the historical markers found on country roads, in front of stone houses, or near scenic overlooks all over America, but instead of commemorating the site of a battle or a place where a famous person slept, these markers deal with contemporary social issues such as gender wage disparity, global warming, illegal immigration, taxes, health care and many, many others.

    The markers are expensive to make. The cost of materials keeps going up. Fabrication, installation, transportation, assistants, insurance, van rental, rewards and fulfillment… it all adds up and all of a sudden, it’s a pricey project. 7 people at $10,000 each or 7000 people at $10 each or some combination thereof will get me going. But I don’t just need money, I’m also going to need help installing these things, so if you’re interested in digging holes and planting poles, please let me know.

    See more from Norm Magnusson here and here.

    Fresh Juice Party Announces FUBAR for Valentine’s Day

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    From Fresh Juice Party:

    California Group Mails Chocolate Corpses for Valentines


    Instead of sending a chocolate heart this Valentine’s, send the entire mutilated body! The limited edition FUBAR comes in both white and milk chocolate and is decorated to depict an American soldier’s corpse returning from war. FUBARs are packaged in refrigerated, flag-wrapped coffins, equipped with hidden sound devices which play the FUBAR Memorial Theme Music when opened. The group has posted this music video that demonstrates these features for those who will not be receiving one of their own.

    Who will the lucky recipients be? (more…)

    Art Appears… and Disappears… in LA

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    Submitted by Lenora:

    Updated: Mysterious street artist hoaxes Downtown L.A., signs removed
    By Deborah Vankin
    September 19, 2012

    A mystery street artist with a sense of humor has turned parts of downtown L.A. into a guerrilla art installation.

    A fake city plaque, on the corner of Spring and 2nd streets, attributes a block of palm trees to artist Chris Burden. (Steve Devol/Los Angeles Times / September 18, 2012)

    Eight neighborhood landmarks or areas have been marked with official-looking city placards that offer what appear to be background information about the location. One, for instance, says that a downtown dumpster was designed by Andy Warhol.

    Though the artworks are unsigned, Culture Monster has learned that they are called “Art Appears” and are the work of the artist who calls himself Wild Life.

    [Update, 12:08 p.m. Wednesday: At least two of the signs have been removed since Tuesday, one near City Hall and one near the LAPD headquarters.]

    The artist Wild Life was half the duo (with Calder Greenwood) responsible for life-sized papier-mâché installations that sprouted up around town a few months ago, notably as the lounging sunbathers in an open construction pit on 1st Street and Broadway. (more…)

    Cacophony Society Zone Show Opens in LA

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters

    ‘The Cacophony Society’ is more than just a clown show
    by Richard Chang
    The Orange County Register
    February 10, 2012

    Grand Central Art Center is exploring one of America’s most playful fringe organizations in ‘The Cacophony Society – Zone Show.’

    Multi-colored fliers line the walls outside Grand Central Art Center’s Main Gallery. A blue banner hangs from the ceiling and reads, “Welcome Homeland Security.”

    A red, black and white sign just inside the Main Gallery mysteriously states: “You may already be a member.” Further inside, chaos and mayhem ensue.

    ‘The Cacophony Society – Zone Show’
    Grand Central Art Center
    125 N. Broadway
    Santa Ana, California
    Through April 15, 2012
    11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and Sundays
    11 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

    “The Cacophony Society – Zone Show” is the newest exhibition at Santa Ana’s Grand Central Art Center. It opened Feb. 4 with a massive reception attended by thousands crowding the Artists Village, and continues through April 15. (more…)

    Critic Jerry Saltz Offers Sex for a Fake Painting

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    Filed under: Art Pranks

    New York Art Critic Offers Money, Sex for Fake Painting
    by Lisa Derrick
    Huffington Post
    November 29, 1011

    New York Magazine’s art critic Jerry Saltz loves Gerhard Richter’s paintings. A lot. So much so that on his Facebook page, the three-time Pulitzer nominee offered either $1,000 or a sex act (plus the cost of materials) to any artist who

    can make me a Richter that looks EXACTLY like an abstract Richter – more or less indistinguishable from the real thing. (You can sign your own name on the back of the damn thing; I just love these and want one.)…Offer: $1000.00 plus materials. I’d like a biggish one.

    After several hundred comments and offers responding to his Facebook posting, Saltz further clarified his immodest proposal:

    1. We agree that you will make me a Richter. 2. We agree on size and cost. 3. You make it. 4. A curator from a MAJOR NY Museum inspects it. 5. IF he/she cannot distinguish it (more or less) from real thing, then I
    A. I pay you the amount of money we agreed on previously.
    B. You get a bj or female equivalent.

    Saltz, a judge on the Bravo television program Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, is married to New York Times senior art critic Roberta Smith, and has a reputation for being — as behooves a critic — outspoken, irreverent and pranksterish. He relishes discourse and uses his Facebook page as a forum for discussion, bantering and repartee. (more…)

    UCSD Senior Prank: Non-Existent Artist Hangs House on Building

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, College Pranks

    EXCLUSIVE: UCSD: Best Prank Ever
    by Walter Mencken
    San Diego Reader
    November 17, 2011

    Senior Class Fabricates Existence of Korean “Artist,” Cons Stuart Collection into Hanging House Off Edge of Seven-Story Building.

    Stuart Collection Curator Attempts to Save Face: “Actually, joke’s on them: this prank is so genius that it ascends to the level of art. We’re proud to feature it in our collection.”

    High-Fiving All ‘Round, UCSD – “It’s over,” says UCSD Senior Amanda Terwilliger. “Everybody can just stop planning their pranks now, because nobody is ever going to top this. Not, the noose, not the shoe, not the paisley, not even the April Fools’ acceptance email.”

    Terwilliger was referring to the installation of “Fallen Star,” the latest addition to the University’s prestigious and silly Stuart Collection of Artistic Oddities. (more…)

    Artist Alex Melamid’s Art Healing Ministry

    Filed under: Art Pranks, Satire

    Submitted by Steve Lambert: Alex Melamid was once part of Komar and Melamid – an amazing pair of artists. He has now created:

    The Art Healing Ministry:

    Watch the NY1 video interview of Melamid here.

    Harnessing the Power of Art!

    …Alexander Melamid, working with Gary Krimershmoys, has started his Art Healing practice. Art is capable of alleviating and even curing psychological and physiological problems of afflicted individuals. It has become evident that there are many benefits of exposing oneself to Art masterpieces especially for those who strive to keep themselves physically fit with flawless skin and flat stomachs.

    In our practice, we use treatments such as van Gogh/Seurat Face Peels, Brancusi Slim-Down Projections, as well as home remedies supplements like Art Charged Water, Art Enhanced Votive Candles, Art Anointed Prayer Cards and last but not least our Targeted Maladies Museum Tours like the Frick Collection Vermeer Radiant Skin Therapy or in extreme cases Faecal Encephalopathy Met Visits.

    These procedures and supplements, used in concert, along with healthy eating habits and exercise, are sure to bring amazing results. Your skin will radiate with an ethereal glow and your waist will shrink to the size of a proverbial twig. Guaranteed!

    Until June 15th, if you write to us and tell us your problem, we will send you a FREE introductory abridged personalized Art Program of appropriated Art Images and Color Combinations (AIACC) remedy targeting your disorder with razor-sharp accuracy!

    Avant-Garde Pranks of a Classical Animator

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, The History of Pranks

    Submitted by Peter Markus: Woody Woodpecker had a higher aesthetic…

    That Noisy Woodpecker Had an Animated Secret
    by Michael Cieply
    The New York Times
    April 10, 2011

    Los Angeles — Sixteen years ago Tom Klein was staring at a Woody Woodpecker cartoon, “The Loose Nut,” when he started seeing things.

    Specifically, Mr. Klein watched that maniacal red-topped bird smash a steamroller through the door of a shed. The screen then exploded into images that looked less like the stuff of a Walter Lantz cartoon than like something Willem de Kooning might have hung on a wall.

    “What was that?” Mr. Klein, now an animation professor at Loyola Marymount University, recalled thinking. Only later, after years of scholarly detective work, did he decide that he had been looking at genuine art that was cleverly concealed by an ambitious and slightly frustrated animation director named Shamus Culhane. Mr. Culhane died in 1996, a pioneer whose six decades in animation included the sequence of the dwarfs marching and singing “Heigh Ho” in the 1937 film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

    In the March issue of Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Mr. Klein relates an intriguing theory. He says that Mr. Culhane broke the boundaries of his craft when he worked on the Woody Woodpecker cartoons in the 1940s, going well beyond the kind of commonplace puckishness that supposedly led later animators to stitch frames of a panty-less diva into “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” Mr. Culhane’s stunts, Mr. Klein posits, were of a higher order. He worked ultra-brief experimental art films into a handful of Woody Woodpecker cartoons. (more…)

    How to Sneak an Art Exhibit Inside a Museum

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, How to Pull Off a Prank, The History of Pranks

    From Deceptology

    How to sneak an art exhibit inside a museum

    This sneaky art prank relied on the optical illusion of
    trompe l’oell photographs that were not seen as art.
    (Such as a keyhole that was not a keyhole.)

    Here’s how artist Harvey Stromberg deceived the Museum of Modern Art, as written in New York Magazine in June 1971:

    “With the help of a friend, but with no assistance from the museum, Harvey Stromberg put on his exhibition himself. A New York artist, he describes his work as “photo-sculpture.” To prepare the exhibition, he spent some weeks in the museum, disguised as a student with a notebook under his arm, peering nearsightedly at pictures while at the same time measuring and photographing museum equipment: light switches, locks, air vents, buzzers, segments of the floor and bricks in the garden wall. These photographs he printed actual size, covered the backs with adhesive, and one day he sauntered through the museum adding 300 trompe l’oell photographs (“photosculpture”) of museum equipment to its walls and floors. (The floor pieces were a mistake: “I didn’t realize that when they buffed the floors they would buff them right off.” says Stromberg.)”

    Read more here.

    Brock Enright: Theater for One

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    Filed under: Art Pranks

    If Your Life Were a Movie
    by Jonah Weiner
    January 21, 2011

    Brock Enright rents a studio in an old Catholic school in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a former classroom that is hard to navigate without stepping on a drawing or kicking a sculpture, but he makes much of his art beyond his studio’s walls — in bars, fast-food joints, Chinatown shopping plazas, rooftops and other locations throughout Manhattan. One evening not long ago, I joined him at the Sixth Ward, a bar on the Lower East Side, to watch him work on a new piece.

    Just after 6 p.m., Enright entered, wearing a black hoodie, dirty black jeans and battered canvas sneakers. “I’m excited about tonight,” he said.

    Since 2002, a year after graduating from Columbia’s M.F.A. program, Enright has operated Videogames Adventure Services, a company that constructs “reality adventures” for paying clients. If you’re a V.A.S. customer, Enright and his team will stage an adventure — peopled with actors, riddled with mysteries, arranged into multiple acts — designed specially for you. Clients are predominantly thrill-seekers (“Some people jump out of planes, some people do this,” Enright says), and if you don’t know precisely what you want out of your game, Enright will probe, infer and decide. The adventure invades your life and transforms it, for a time, into a work of art. (more…)

    Forgery for Love, Not Money

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

    Elusive Forger, Giving but Never Stealing
    By Randy Kennedy
    The New York Times
    January 11, 2011

    His real name is Mark A. Landis, and he is a lifelong painter and former gallery owner. But when he paid a visit to the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum in Lafayette, La., last September, he seemed more like a character sprung from a Southern Gothic novel.

    He arrived in a big red Cadillac and introduced himself as Father Arthur Scott. Mark Tullos Jr., the museum’s director, remembers that he was dressed “in black slacks, a black jacket, a black shirt with the clerical collar and he was wearing a Jesuit pin on his lapel.” Partly because he was a man of the cloth and partly because he was bearing a generous gift — a small painting by the American Impressionist Charles Courtney Curran, which he said he wanted to donate in memory of his mother, a Lafayette native — it was difficult not to take him at his word, Mr. Tullos said.

    The painting, unframed and wrapped in cellophane, looked like the real thing, with a faded label on the verso from a long-defunct gallery in Manhattan. Father Scott offered to pay for a good frame and hinted that more paintings and perhaps some money might come the museum’s way from his family. But when the Hilliard’s director of development chatted with Father Scott about the church and his acquaintances in deeply Roman Catholic southern Louisiana, the man grew nervous. “He said, ‘Well, I travel a lot,’ ” Mr. Tullos recalled. “ ‘I go and solve problems for the church.’ ”

    Mr. Landis — often under his own name, though more recently as Father Scott or as a collector named Steven Gardiner — has indeed done a lot of traveling over the past two decades, but not for the church. He has been one of the most prolific forgers American museums have encountered in years, writing, calling and presenting himself at their doors, where he tells well-concocted stories about his family’s collection and donates small, expertly faked works, sometimes in honor of nonexistent relatives. (more…)

    “Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art” Book Release Party Announced

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    Taschen and Wooster Collective, the publisher and authors of “Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art“, are throwing a book release party in NYC September 29. It’s open to the public. Below is the invitation.

    Joey Skaggs’ work is included in this encyclopedic effort to, in editor Ethel Seno’s words, “bring generations together around the subject of street art and ‘uncommissioned public art'”, and he’ll be there. Come on by!

    Written by Carlo McCormick, Marc Schiller, & Sara Schiller, and edited by Ethel Seno, copies of the book are available for pre-order online at a great price.

    Here’s the list of artists included in the book: (more…)