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  • Provenance

    The Colbert Report

  • Catalogue Essay

    In an ambitious on-going work that calls to mind the sprawling constructed worlds of Matthew Barney and identity-questioning narratives of Sophie Calle, TV pundit and conceptual artist Stephen Colbert has been performing his site-specific installation, “The Colbert Report,” at his Manhattan studio space six nights a week since 2005. (The four fully-clothed performances each week are broadcast nationally.)
     
    This portrait, the fifth in a series, is at once a celebration of the attainment of immortality through fame, and a Memento Mori, with each iteration of the portrait unveiling a step on the subject’s inexorable march to death.
     
    Previous versions of the portrait have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, in the palace of a Saudi prince, and at a South Carolina Bar-B-Que restaurant--but especially in the National Portrait Gallery.  A recent copy can also be seen on the previous page, in the prestigious Phillips de Pury & Company auction catalog.
     
    On a December, 2010 broadcast, this painting was modified, with what Colbert calls his “unconscious consent,” by three fellow fine artists. Graphic designer and street artist Sheperd Fairey re-contextualized Stephen’s image by using spray paint to amplify the work’s didactic Ur-tone. Then, controversial conceptualist Andres Serrano further disrupted the painting’s id with confident yet flippant strokes of his magic marker, and in so doing, probably doubled or tripled its value. Also, Frank Stella looked at it.
     
    Noted collector Steve Martin deemed the newly modified painting “a very important piece,” then refused to talk about what it was like to work with Alec Baldwin.
     
    The collaborative exquisite-corpsian process that birthed this work suggests the demolition of traditional notions of authorship, though Colbert is insistent that it was all his idea.
     
    DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need.  Teachers request supplies, like pencils, violins or microscopes, then donors give to classroom projects that inspire them.  The proceeds from the portrait of Stephen Colbert will fund art projects in high-need schools.
    ESTIMATE Inestimable

FULL PROCEEDS BENEFIT DONORSCHOOSE.ORG

1

Lot offered with No Reserve

Portrait 5, Stephen(s)

2010
Inkjet on canvas, with acrylic spray paint, Sharpie, looked-at-edness of Frank Stella. Printed at 291 Digital in New York. Suitable for Framing.
47 x 36 in. (not available in metric)
Signed "Andres Serrano" lower left.

Estimate On Request •

Sold for $26,000

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Under the Influence

8 March 2011
New York