Cringe-worthy art

Lever House is considered by many architectural purists to be one of the more important buildings in Manhattan. Located at Park Avenue and 49th Street, many of its revolutionary design elements were co-opted by other architects (as is often the case). There’s an emphasis placed on the public space and the skin of the building is made of a heat resistant blue/green glass that doesn’t have windows you could open and close.

Lever House acquired a fancy art collection and uses its lobby as gallery space to show it off. They have a rotation of pretty interesting exhibits but the one that’s on display now is a big, dumb, mess.

Mike Bidlo’s Not Warhol (Brillo Boxes, 1964), 2005 is up through September 11. The piece is merely a recreation of Andy Warhol’s stacked Brillo boxes. It’s a stunning display of laziness and low ambition.


Bidlo “thought it would be interesting to appropriate a work by another appropriator.” I’ve seen Warhol’s work. He’s no Warhol, if that’s what he’s trying to imply. Can you imagine? You are given a commission to do a piece in a high profile venue like the Lever House gallery and the best you can come up with is copying Warhol. Shame on you. They try to draw a thread between the original exhibit and this one by displaying a Brillo box from Warhol’s exhibit inside a Plexiglas cube.


The exhibit’s unintentionally comical bio states that “Bidlo is best known for his incredibly accurate replications of masterworks by important twentieth century artists…” That’s just lazy. It doesn’t require any original thought. During a 1982 exhibit where Bidlo made replicas of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, he “re-enacted Pollock’s infamous act of urinating into Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace (which Bidlo finds relevant to Pollock’s painting technique and is related to Bidlo’s later recreations of Warhol’s urine splashed “Oxidation” paintings).” What an idiot. Why do curators fall for this crap? He also has the nerve to claim he comes from the same school of thought as Richard Prince and Barbara Kruger. Yeah, you wish.

The Lever House plaza includes a Noguchi sculpture garden where you’ll find this playful Hello Kitty sculpture. It’s not Great Art, but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than what’s going on inside the lobby.