Art is not advertising. Except when it is.

So eight years ago(that long ago) Prada put up a fake store in Marfa, Texas, except it wasn't really a store, it was a so-called art piece. The art piece generated a lot of publicity. For Prada. Which then in turn became an ad. How meta.

Funny thing is, it is now generating a bunch of controversy because meta or not, it is now considered by the State of Texas to be an ad.

A recent article by the New York Times:

Nearly eight years after opening, Prada Marfa has been classified by the Texas Department of Transportation as an 'illegal outdoor advertising sign' because it displays the Prada logo on land where that is prohibited. This could lead to forced removal of the installation, although the department has not yet decided what action it will take.

While the artists insist the logo is crucial to whatever comment they are trying to make about whatever, because art n' stuff, the state thinks it's an eyesore. It doesn't help that aging skin mag Playboy recognized a good publicity stunt when they saw one and jumped on the bandwagon, erecting one of their own installations there.

Get it? Erect?

Hell, I think the idea of a fake city with fake brands is amazing.

Anyway, Prada defended the piece, they insist they had nothing to do with it, except for allowing the artists to use their logo, and supplying the artists their merchandise thusly:

'There’s a difference between being commissioned by a company to do something for them and using their logo, and using their logo on your own,' Mr. Elmgreen said. Artists, from Andy Warhol to Ai Weiwei, he pointed out, have produced works that feature logos."

Yeah...except to my knowledge Andy Warhol never put his ads on the side of the road. In a public space. Looking like a real store. And while the work is only slightly derivative, invoking St Andy's name is nothing more than a ploy for legitimacy.

It does seem a bit like some civil servant with too much time on his hands realized eight years too late about this whole art thing. I imagine it being a man who stopped by the store to pick his wife up something only to discover it wasn't real. And then noticing the Playboy store, felt incredibly duped by a fake logo city.

Regardless. As an art project, the notion that artists would be using logos agnostically without any knowledge of their power is complete and utter horse shit.

Far as I'm concerned, all parties should be happy. The artists should just enjoy the fact they got some free press on a forgotten work. And Prada (and Playboy) should enjoy the earned media. You're fooling no one.

Long live artvertising.

about the author

kidsleepy CD copywriter with 18 years experience who has worked in many cities including New York, Atlanta, Montreal and currently Los Angeles. I snark because I care.