Blog Posts

Italian Art Pranks Remembered

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

From Modigliani Fakes To Michelangelo The Forger: Italy’s Most Ingenious Art Pranks, by Emanuela Minucci, LA STAMPA, ENGLISH EDITION WORLDCRUNCH, May 06, 2023

TURIN — Summer, 1984. Three sculptures are found in a canal in Livorno, Italy.

Experts and art critics Giulio Carlo Argan and Cesare Brandi agree that the sculptures are the work of famous Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, who had written that he threw some sculptures that didn’t turn out as he’d wanted into the river.

But the sculptures were all fake. It was one of the greatest art hoaxes of all time. The prank of Modigliani’s False Heads is the story of three university students and an artist from Livorno who didn’t know each other, but all had the same idea: on the year of the centenary of Modigliani’s birth, as the city of Livorno dredged a nearby river to find the lost sculptures Modigliani had written about, defied the art world. It was courageous, and reckless.

After the four made the sculptures and threw them into the river at night, they waited for critics and experts to comment on their authenticity and quality. Then, they went on television and revealed the hoax — for the students, a prank, and for the artist, a performance.

Even the art world is not immune to pranks, and some of those who indulged in these hoaxes were later remembered as some of the most important and influential artists of all time.

Michelangelo, the forger
The mastermind of one of the most famous scams in art history was none other than Michelangelo Buonarroti. At just over 20 years old, the Renaissance art genius created a Sleeping Cupid that, through various tricks, looked like a piece of ancient artwork. (more…)

Haggis To Go

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Filed under: College Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief

Student prank sees giant haggis travel to Inverness
January 26th, 2012

College students caused a Burns Night stir after putting a 5ft model haggis on a train.

The madcap students put the papier mache haggis on the 2pm Kirkcaldy to Inverness service yesterday, hoping an amused passenger might collect it at the other end for a Burns Night supper.

Sure enough, the haggis – complete with a pink kilt – was rescued by a businessman in the Highlands capital and whisked away to a celebration of the Scottish Bard”™s life.

The haggis, made by students at Adam Smith college, Kirkcaldy, Fife, even sported a Paddington Bear-style tag with contact information for the college, in case he got lost.

The 5ft model was placed in the luggage department in the last compartment of the busy train.

A businessman, named by local press as Kit Fraser, collected the haggis from the station to be his guest of honour at a Burns Night supper for an accountancy firm. (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…)

Smith College Logic Professors Snare Students… Again

Filed under: College Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief

Submitted by Tim Jackson:

Fed false logic, campus eats up a hoax and revolts
by Mary Carmichael
October 25, 2011

Northampton – All last week, students at Smith College were buzzing over a rumor that the school was going completely vegetarian and locavore. There were protests and counter-protests, with slogans chalked on walkways. There was a Twitter feed that caught the attention of VegNews, “America”™s premier vegan lifestyle magazine.” At a student government meeting, the dining services manager came under attack: How did she expect students to pass their midterms without coffee?

But the Smith administration wasn”™t really planning to ban meat, food from outside New England, or anything else.

The whole thing was a hoax – one in a decade of annual pranks perpetrated by professors Jay Garfield and Jim Henle as part of their introductory class in logic. The point is to teach rhetoric and argument, albeit in an unorthodox way. Logic classes get dry. Typically, students spend a lot of time working through inscrutable proofs on the chalkboard. (more…)

Madison Wisconsin’s New City Bird

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Filed under: College Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief

Plastic pink flamingo voted Madison’s city bird
by Broderick Perkins of Tampa Bay
September 3, 2009

Wisconsin’s capital city alders, inspired by what’s become a historic college prank, have named the pink flamingo the city’s official bird.


Not the real feathered variety indigenous to the wilds of Africa, South America, the Caribbean and the Galapagos Islands.

The plastic pink version found on lawns — good, bad and ugly — throughout America.

Madison City Council voted 15-4 this week to give a lawn decoration perhaps the first such distinction, much to the chagrin of some residents and dissenting alders.

The questionable honor was bestowed upon the kitschy ornament because of a 1979 prank by leaders of the University of Wisconsin student government’s Pail and Shovel Party. (more…)

Creative Prankster Charged with Larceny

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Filed under: Art Pranks, College Pranks, Pranksters

Update, June 17, 2009: Police fail to see art in monstrous prank, AP [but construction company loves it].

Spotted on Fark by W.J. Elvin III:

N.C. State student accused of creating a ‘monster’
June 12, 2009

monsterrobotRaleigh, N.C. – Raleigh police arrested a North Carolina State University student last week who was accused of creating a “monster” out of construction barrels and placing it on the side of the road. Authorities charged Joseph Carnevale with larceny for taking materials from a construction site at a roundabout project to create the monster.

Popcorn Prank: A Real Stinker

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Filed under: College Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief

Popcorn Prank Lands Conn. College Students In Hot Water
May 12, 2009

burned_popcorn-200New Britain, Conn. (AP) — Officials at Central Connecticut State University don’t see the humor in this prank: burning bags of popcorn in a microwave in a crowded dorm in the middle of the night and tying some doors shut so residents think they’re trapped in a burning building.

Campus police say they arrested three teenagers who purposely burned the popcorn early Monday, setting off a fire alarm in the dorm shortly after 3 a.m.

No one was hurt in the incident in Vance Hall at the New Britain campus. University officials offered counseling to anyone who needed it.

University spokesman Mark McLaughlin said two bags of popcorn were in a microwave on the third floor, and about six room doors were tied shut with fishing line on the fourth and fifth floors. But students were able to squeeze out because the line wasn’t tight, and the smoke apparently wasn’t much of a problem, he said.

“We take this very seriously. It could easily have been something that went terribly wrong,” McLaughlin said. Read the rest of the story here.