Art Market Blog – The Most Controversial Artist Ever ???
Every year in my home town of Sydney, Australia the highly prestigious Archibald Prize for Portraiture is held by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Archibald prize is awarded to the best portrait, preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics, painted by an artist resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees for sending in the pictures. Having first been awarded in 1921 this prize has a long history that is steeped in tradition which has resulted in the prize generally being awarded to a more traditional and non-controversial work. To win the Archibald Prize is a really big deal that gives the recipient a major boost to their popularity and desirability along with a nice fat cheque for $35,000. In a nutshell, winning the Archibald Prize is the ultimate accolade for an Australian artist.
Just because the winner of this prize tends to be a more traditional work doesn’t mean that all the entries are of a traditional nature, in fact, one of the most publicised entries in this years competition is a guaranteed non-winner. Most of you would not be familiar with the name Tim Patch but you may be more familiar with his pseudonym, Pricasso, which is neither a spelling mistake nor a joke. The sexual innuendo is indeed deliberate because Pricasso does in fact paint with his Penis. To create his work Patch dips his willy in paint and applies it to the canvas which is smoother than the average painting surface to prevent any un-necessary chafing. Pricasso’s controversial methods have gained him extensive press and fame all over the world resulting in a high demand for his “services” at events such as Sexpo where he paints in front of an audience.
It is a real sign of the times when the most highly publicised entry into a highly prestigious and traditional art prize is by a penis wielding portraitist. I can’t help but draw a parallel between the work of artists such as Pollock who championed the concept of the process being more important than the product which is definitely the case with Patch. Pricasso’s entry into the Archibald Prize was picked up by news services around the world including Reuters, The Sun Newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper and others proving that controversy sells. Although I wouldn’t recommend that an artist go to the extremes that Pricasso has, one can definitely learn something from his promotional techniques. Patch’s success really boils down to one factor, thinking outside the box. Struggling artists take note.
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.