Damn the Man: Art as Nuisance, at Least Where Sotheby’s Is Concerned

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Though the New York Post can’t spell “scuplture,” the paper sure can hype an artist. See: Justin Rocket Silverman’s profile of nudes-on-a-train photographer Zack Hyman; compare to this week’s report on tape sculpture artist Sam Bassett, who spent 20 hours in jail after an aborted attempt at decorating the Sotheby’s building.

Last week in anticipation of Sotheby’s contemporary auction, Bassett spent five minutes perched on a ledge on the building’s facade, plotting how to install one of his streetscape tape installations. Womp-womp, that didn’t work, but Bassett caught the attention of Sotheby’s muscle, who promptly reported him to the police. Nothing like a little suffering for art’s sake! Still, it would have been cool — just check out some of Bassett’s other tape sculptures after the jump.

According to the Post, “One cop called [him] the new Cristo [sic],” referring to one half of the famous French duo who were the talk of the town in 2005 after their Central Park installation “The Gates.” Bassett continues, “I tried to explain this was a modern art project, but the security guard was convinced I was trying to break in and steal the Warhol print. So the cops took me to jail.” Luckily for the artist, the trespassing charges were dropped the next morning after a night in the slammer. We wonder what urban canvas is next?

On October 23, Bassett put up a tape sculpture emanating from the Hotel Chelsea and expanding down the block in each direction (West 23rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues). He describes the work as “zig zagging back and forth like life. Or civilization. Or the universe.”

Check out more of Sam Bassett’s work on his website, including tape sculpture, photography, and film.