Yes. It is. Fo sho. ART. Serious art connoisseurs have a vested interest in keeping stuff like this out of galleries and museums. It just doesn’t fit with their image of themselves as soldiers in the noble war against vulgarity and dumbed-down mainstream culture.
Richard Phillips is aware of this. He knows art critics find it hard to believe that his giant paintings of tabloid celebrity Lindsay Lohan, Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima, and former porn star Sasha Grey can actually be considered Art with a capital “A.”
Phillips’ latest show, “First Point,” opened at the Gagosian Gallery in London. A huge crowd, heavy on celebrities, art stars and Fashion Week refugees, jammed in to gawk at Phillips’ 11-foot-tall paintings of the aforementioned women, each notorious in her own way. The portraits of Lima were based on photographs Phillips shot forVisionaire magazine, and the paintings of Lohan and Grey were based on stills from three videos he made with the actresses, which were shown in two screening rooms at the gallery.
Phillips didn’t choose the stills themselves — they were selected by editors around the world, who pulled screen shots to illustrate their coverage of the videos when they were first released earlier this year.
The seriousness with which he treats Lohan, Lima and Grey prompts a series of uncomfortable questions: Why do I know who these women are? Why do so many of us care so much about them? What is it that makes millions of people love them, and millions of others hate them? If I do find them beautiful, why does that also make me feel guilty?