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Trophy Lives: On the Celebrity as an Art Object

$ 18.00

We know that celebrities can make great muses: think of the work of Richard Phillips, who has painted an entire series of works inspired by Lindsay Lohan, Robert Pattinson, and Miley Cyrus, or of Urs Fischer, who recently showed a life-sized candle in the shape of Leonardo DiCaprio. Notoriously, the art collector Peter Brant commissioned the wickedly satirical Italian American artist Maurizio Cattelan to make a sculpture of his wife, the supermodel Stephanie Seymour. The work was technically called Stephanie, but became known in the industry as 'Trophy Wife'. With the sculpture valued at 1.5 million dollars, while Seymour herself is purportedly worth one hundred million dollars, you might be tempted to wonder which has the claim to be the 'better' work of art.

In this illustrated essay, critic Philippa Snow asks whether all great, or iconic, celebrities can be considered technically self-authored artworks in and of themselves. Drawing on a wide range of cultural references from the past two decades, she proposes that increasingly - as celebrities' private lives become more visible and thus more art-directed, and especially as plastic surgery becomes de rigueur for even the most minor public figures - celebrity itself can be a medium for contemporary art, a form of mythmaking and image-making that is every bit as complex, conceptual, and compelling as the work of a traditional artist.

Philippa Snow
Mack Books
Paperback, 104 pages
ISBN 9781915743121

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