In recent years, there’s been a movement by the art community and museum community to select non-art-world people to curate special exhibitions. It works the same way as stunt-casting for a film – there’s a hope that attaching a non-art-world name to an exhibition brings more people into the galleries or museums. I remember reading about the Baltimore Art Museum allowing their security guards to curate an exhibition and the result was fascinating, and the exhibit got national and international headlines. So Sotheby’s wants part of the action too – they’ve hired Robert Pattinson as a special guest-curator for an exhibit. The art world sniffs at this but I bet Sparkles fans will be all over it.
It seems Robert Pattinson is no more convincing as a curator than he is as a vampire. Sotheby’s named the “Twilight” actor as the latest celeb to curate an exhibit for the auctioneer as part of a program called “Contemporary Curated.” After insidery art website Artnet announced on its Instagram account that Pattinson — or ‘Art Patz’ as we now like to think of him — had been tapped by the auction house, art industry types around the country flooded it with withering responses, with a characteristic comment reading, “That’s gotta make actual curators feel valued.”
Meanwhile, an art insider told Page Six that it’s unlikely that even Sotheby’s is buying its own shtick. “[Pattinson] maybe picked a couple [of pieces] out — but that’s about it. No major auction house is going to trust a non-art specialist to put an auction together,” they said. “They’ve done this before. It basically means they put a celebrity name on something that a specialist there puts together,” they said likening it bold-face name sitting on “a host committee for an event — they don’t really do anything!”
The “Batman” star’s week-long exhibit ran from September 23 to 29 at Sotheby’s New York. A live auction will take place on the 30th. Pattinson chose six pieces including works by Willem de Kooning, Richard Serra and Lynette Yadom-Boakye.
“Curating this group of paintings has been a really exciting process and an honor for me,” Pattinson said in a press release. “Acting has made me realize that there is an interconnectedness between all art forms, and it made the process of curating the sale a fascinating and fun experience for me,” he added. Of his curatorial process, he said, “What I look for is when a piece has its own language. It doesn’t necessarily feel like it just exists for its own sake and has a presence that hums with a bit of life. It has the ability to communicate with you on a kind of primordial level.”
When we asked Sotheby’s about the unenthusiastic response, a rep told us, “Encouraging fresh perspectives by working with guest curators is nothing new and we look forward to welcoming you at our exhibition which opens this weekend at 1334 York avenue.”
Meanwhile, a source familiar with the series told us the auction house chose Pattinson, in part, because he’s a passionate art collector rather than a seasoned curator.
“The entire series is designed for an outsider to curate this… The specialist works with the cultural figure to ask them about what their favorite works are, and go out and source the work for sale,” they said. In fact, the whole point, they said, “is that they’re non-art world people or cultural figures, [Sotheby’s staff] think are interesting and are collectors. They’re not pretending.”
The art world needs to stop sniffing their own farts and go touch some grass, my God. How dare Sotheby’s actually try to engage new audiences by asking Robert Pattinson to curate a very small exhibit! What’s next, the filthy masses entering museums and galleries and expecting to put their peasant eyes on works of art? I actually think it’s incredibly cool that Rob agreed to do this and I would love to see his art collection. I bet he has some really interesting pieces, and I bet he’ll choose some really interesting pieces for this auction/exhibit.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.