Memento (From Andy Warhol With Love) by David Robbins

Published by Adora Porcelain
December 1 - 15, 2012

On Saturday, Dec 1, 5-7 PM, we’re hosting a launch with artist David Robbins for his limited edition plate Memento (From Andy With Love), published by Adora Porcelain. The work features an image transposed from a short dedication Warhol once inscribed to Robbins in a copy of the Philosophy of Andy Warhol. Working with-in the language of commemorative plates, Robbins plays with levels of authorship and authenticity, while testing the sincerity of Andy’s “love.” For the occasion, Robbins has created three TV commercials to promote the plate, comprising a separate and related work (“Until now we’ve never really had TV commercials for contemporary art, but it’s time.”). For the launch we’ll have a selection of books from Robbins available for sale, including Ice Cream Social, The Velvet Grind and others. The 10 ¼ inch porcelain plate is signed on the back by the artist and is produced in an edition of 250. The plate is being released at the price of $125 and is available “here”:/catalog/32481.

David Robbins describes the genesis of Memento below:

I began working for Warhol when I first moved to New York at the end of 1979 and continued at the Factory until early 1981. During the week I worked for Interview magazine and occasionally for Andy Warhol TV, and I came in to work on Saturdays too, when it was usually just Andy, Vincent Fremont, and myself. Andy did a lot of painting on Saturdays. I assisted him in extremely minor ways, such as handing him a container of paint when he requested it. I wasn’t making art yet, myself. I hadn’t gone to art school. Direct engagement with the New York art world provided my art education, and of course observing Andy was a big part of that. I’m sure that my time at the Factory influenced the way my work later developed along multi-disciplinary lines, when I would have art, writing, and TV projects all going at once.

When Adora Porcelain invited me to create an editioned plate for their program, I knew right away that I wanted to do something that played off a plate’s objecthood; I didn’t want an image alone. I zeroed in on the commemorative function that can attach to plates as souvenirs of sentimental experiences–weddings (royal and otherwise), visits to romantic or historic travel destinations, and so forth. A written dedication too fits the sentimental bill. Warhol had scribbled a dedication to me inside my copy of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, so I transposed that onto the plate photomechanically, then added a sort of authoring hallmark for good measure. Whose is the authoring hand here, Andy’s or David’s? Layers of authorship, layers of sincerity… How many times in his lifetime did Andy write “To so-and-so, love Andy Warhol”? Thousands! Like any celebrity’s, Andy’s “love” was a displaced or impersonal kind of love. And yet not entirely insincere. I had a genuine personal connection to him, too, so sentimentality is certainly present in Memento but it’s slippery.

The three TV commercials I’ve made to promote the plate comprise a separate, if obviously related work. I started making TV commercials for artists a few years ago, for friends’ exhibitions. I like the clarity of the TV commercial as a form–the limitations it imposes and the challenge these present. You have to get the information across clearly, about whatever is being sold or promoted, and you have to do it in fifteen, thirty, at most sixty seconds. In terms of duration it adopts the exact opposite approach of an art video, which can go on and on. The two strictures aside, you can invent any treatment you like. It’s a fun challenge. Historically, most of the treatments of TV commercials by artists have been critical of their function but that doesn’t interest me. I’m trying to make an entertaining, possibly memorable commercial. Until now we’ve never really had TV commercials for contemporary art, but it’s time. Art isn’t as marginalized as it used to be. In an information society there’s far greater acceptance of art as an information form, and as an economic force too. To me it seems entirely natural to make and air TV commercials for art. Buy time on TV in a local market, as I have occasionally done, or put it on the web for free and reach a global audience.

David Robbins is known for investigating the intersections between art, entertainment, and comedy, with special attention to the transformation of the artist in the visual system. Subsequent to working for Andy Warhol from 1979 to 1981, Robbins achieved recognition with Talent. (1986), eighteen “entertainer’s headshots” of contemporary artists, which was the subject of a twenty-fifth anniversary exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York in 2012, and The Ice Cream Social, a fifteen-year-long project (1993-2008), comprising installations, performances, a novella, and a Sundance Channel TV pilot, that Hans Ulrich Obrist has cited as pioneering the “expanded exhibition” format. Robbins’ work is in numerous public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. His most recent solo exhibition, The Lift Trilogy, appeared at Galleria Raucci Santamaria, Naples, Italy (2011). His books include High Entertainment (2009), The Velvet Grind: Essays, Interviews, Satires, 1983–2005 (2006), The Dr. Frankenstein Option (1993), The Camera Believes Everything (1988) and, most recently, Concrete Comedy: An Alternative History of 20th-Century Comedy (2011).