Brooklyn-born arthouse hothouse MSCHF — short for mischief — lived up to its name again this fall when it challenged the art world’s capricious form of dollar valuation and absolute emphasis on the provenance of creation.
Warhol’s iconoclastic merging of high art and kitsch sought to make provenance suspect, and in turn liberate art from exclusivity of ownership and production too. To some degree, he may’ve succeeded. But the shockingly high bids for certain works in the present age of wealth consolidation would indicate only temporarily.
MSCHF cast the whole matter into stark terms by auctioning off a series of 1,000 drawings, all of Andy Warhol’s 1954 sketch ‘Fairies’, one which the artist might’ve actually dashed off. Not only that, but to detach the artwork from any semblance of human agency — whether by original artist or gifted artistic mimic — all the new drawings were made with a robotic arm. The 1,000 pieces are being sold for $250 each.
All the copies were artificially aged, to look as authentic as possible. One of them is apparently the original, but which? Additionally, MSCHF conceived the message as a performance piece, and in that way subverted any pretention of ownership; as all the copies sold are sold as part of a performance, all are owned by the 1,000 members of the collective that purchase them, and participate in the performance in turn.