[Blog] Jean-Michel Basquiat Dumpster: Art is Everywhere!

He’s at it again. The artist known as Wild Life is bringing our attention to the mundane, and calling it “art.” He the claims the art has been created by some of our most esteemed contemporary artists. And he’s giving it the seal of approval of the City of Los Angeles and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

It’s all a hoax, of course, as Deborah Vankin wrote in the LA Times when Wild Life began this mischief — dubbing the palm trees by L.A. Police Department headquarters “Thirsty Palms” and attributing it to Chris Burden (artist of the county museum’s street lamp installation), and calling the Sister Cities signpost near City Hall a work by Yoko Ono, among other instances.

Wild Life was also responsible, along with artist Calder Greenwood, for placing the most surprising papier-mache creations around downtown’s least noteworthy locations — a “surfer” in a dry L.A. River bed, a sunbathing “family” in an empty lot ridden with tumbleweeds, a “tree” on top of an actual tree stump near an alley. (Photos here.)

Yesterday I noticed a laminated sign by a dumpster on Onizuka St. in Little Tokyo:

At least the date is plausible! Basquiat died in 1988 at age 27. Known for his graffiti style, Basquiat once said, “Believe it or not, I can actually draw.”

The real Jean-Michel Basquiat looks like this:

‘In Italian,’ 1983 by Jean-Michel Basquiat / untitledvirtuoso.com

The ironic thing is that Los Angeles is bursting with “great art” in public spaces. To see it, you just need to pay attention and know where to look. A block away on Temple St., the “Molecule Man” sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky stands 30 meters tall. Inside the adjacent courtyard, a frieze by Tom Otterness called “The New World” depicts baby-ish figures acting out scenes brimming with metaphor and allegory. On my street, Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi’s “To the Issei” rock sculpture commands attention with its serene majesty. And recently, local printmaker Sonia Romero installed signs depicting Japanese cultural symbols on Little Tokyo lamp posts. Art really is everywhere. Thanks, Wild Life, for reminding us.


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