Throughout January, artwork by Chuck Close and Kehinde Wiley will travel New York City atop 500 taxi cabs, thanks to art enthusiast and ShowMedia president John Amato. With an estimated value of $100,000, Amato said, “I can do this as my annual holiday gift not just to myself, but to everyone who enjoys seeing the art as it travels around New York City’s streets.” ‘Art Adds’ is the second annual collaboration between ShowMedia and the Art Production Fund, a campaign bringing art to the streets for all to enjoy. The inaugural year featured Alex Katz, Shirin Neshat, and Yoko Ono.
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Though some critics are skeptical of the seemingly too-good-to-be-true advertising ploy—or lack thereof—Art Production Fund co-founder Doreen Remen states, “This is nothing against consumerism or companies, but this is a different kind of exchange. It’s about the intangible and having a conversation that isn’t about the physical world,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
As both artists are known for their large works, the relatively small advertisement space of a taxi cab offers an entirely new context in more ways than one. In dealing with this consideration, Wiley’s work has simply been scaled down, allowing for his racially and politically charged juxtapositions to still be taken in as a whole. The Virgin Martyr St. Cecilia (2008) and Femme Piquee Par Un Serpent (2008) are Wiley’s two pieces selected for the project.
Close has chosen instead to crop small portions of his work for the cabs, decontexualizing Lucas Samaras’ mustache or Lorna Simpson’s eyes to an even further extent (Lucas (1987-88) and Lorna (2006) are Close’s two contributions). A recent appointee to President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Close is an advocate of exploring new avenues for public art education and promotion.