Art Pranks

Happy April Fools!

I love a good prank. One of my favorite sites is Improve Everywhere, which you should totally check out because I give awesome recommendations.

But since I like art and stuff, and it is April 1st, I’m going to talk about some great art pranks.  According to The Economist, the most well-known art prank of all time is Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” as pictured here:

Yes indeed. That is a urinal turned upside down. Hilarious (if you didn’t catch it, that was tinged with sarcasm). However, I personally don’t believe this was intended to be a prank.

Duchamp started a new art movement in the early 1900s called “Readymades” which consisted of found objects he decided to present as art. Readymades could be anything, from a bicycle wheel to a used handkerchief. The whole idea behind the movement was to question, “What is art?” This is coming from the same guy who painted mustaches on postcards of the Mona Lisa. And here’s the kicker. Marcel Duchamp is considered one of the most important and influential artists of the twentieth century, and “Fountain” basically rocked the world, giving birth to Conceptualism. Thank you art world. You’ve always had such impeccable taste.

Here are some contemporary art pranks. These two I’m citing directly from The Huffington Post which has an extensive list. For example, “The Office” writer and actor BJ Novak confessed to an art prank of his own. In 1997, when the funny man was still in high school, he made an alternate self-guided tour to an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts. He replaced the tour’s planned cassette with his own. The first three minutes were the same, then things started to get weird. Directions turned to: “Quietly remove the glass and inhale the rich aroma of the paint. Ah, that is good stuff!” The tape eventually asked museum goers to do the hokey-pokey.”

“On April Fools day in 2005, “Popular Photography Magazine” ran a special on how to “save” photographs from their unattractive wrinkles and expressions. The article showed Dorothea Lange’s iconic “Migrant Mother” as an example, notoriously recognized for her depression induced weariness. Yet the new and improved mother looked more like a real housewife, her wrinkles Botoxed away and frown assuaged. Although many readers appreciated the joke, others were horrified.”