Monday 14 May 2012

Canadian Art Spoofs (and the British Monarchy)

Some people want to cut Canada’s ties to the British monarchy ( Others love the royals, especially when they do something tabloid-worthy like Prince Charles expressing the wish to become a Tampax ( Or the Queen riding a moose. Okay, so that only happens in Charles Pachter’s paintings (

Is Pachter’s art a spoof or a political commentary?  Are Jeff Koons’ balloon dogs, Damien Hirst’s pickled sheep, and Claes Oldenburg’s giant hamburger spoofs or social commentary?

When the Art Gallery of Ontario displayed Oldenburg’s hamburger in 1967, James Meechan and his students responded by leaving a giant Ketchup bottle on the steps of the museum ( Was it art, or were these guys clairvoyants and doing an ad for

I don’t know about Oldenburg, but I’m pretty sure about the mini coffin displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum in 2002 ( That was a spoof, right? The ROM gave itself some wiggle room in their description. They said, the box might contain the bones of James, the brother of Jesus, and thus – here comes the biggy -- potentially prove the existence of Jesus.

More than 45,000 visitors lined up to see the little stone box, and a parade of scientists testified for and against its owner, Oded Golan, in 2005, when he faced charges of forgery. This year Golan was acquitted in spite of some rather damning evidence, such as a fake patina applied with glue. (

And now for the ultimate spoof/political commentary: the 2007 addition to the Royal Ontario Museum, which required tearing down the 1984 Queen Elizabeth II Terrace. How is that for severing ties to the British monarchy? (

The architect, Daniel Libeskind, originally envisaged something largely consisting of transparent, translucent glass. ( As it turned out, the concept was structurally not feasible. Hey, don’t they teach that sort of thing in Architecture 101? So, what the ROM got for their 270 Million CAD, is a crystal covered with aluminum bandaids, which has been declared by the Washington Post the “ugliest building of the decade” (

Don’t they have their own art spoofs in Washington? Do they have to hit on Toronto? All you Americans/Europeans out there, tell me about your favourite art spoof, so I can make my blog more international.

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1 comment:

  1. Carlos Lechner16 May 2012 at 14:19

    Your blog makes me chuckle--in a wry sort of way. Here too cities and architects keep perpetrating one monstrosity after another. Amsterdam´s EYE film museum (it´s bon ton here to use English instead of Dutch) is pretentious but passable. The capital's Stedelijk Museum (of modern art) is equally pretentious and an outright calamity. It has been aptly dubbed "the bathtub."
    Carlos Lechner,
    The Netherlands