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Pablo Helguera
Umělec magazine
Year 2010, 2
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Pablo Helguera

Umělec magazine 2010/2


Tristan Russel | humour | en cs de ru

Snobby curators, egotistical artists on the look out for their next residency, gallerists who have done one too many Art Fairs, collectors more interested in market value and art-world hangers-on; all of these and more are the characters that Pablo Helguera, creator of Artoons, has in his sights. Pricking the pomposity of the rarified atmosphere of the galleries and museums that are known as the ‘art-world’ is not always advisable, especially when those you are making fun of are your peers, employers and benefactors, more used to the serious business of grant applications and appearing either in the ‘right’ publications or at the ‘right’ shows. Helguera himself was, and is, involved in this ‘serious’ business both as a practicing artist and as the Director of Adult and Academic Programs at MoMA in New York. Although he has drawn cartoons since he was a kid, for a long time he disregarded his doodlings as somehow inferior to the business of being a practitioner, luckily for us he is now, “old enough to not care or at least [to] have redefined my understanding of what ‘serious’ means.”
Helguera’s ‘serious’ work has involved themes ranging from history, memory and identity and has paid particular attention to those areas that may be seen to be in decline. For example his investigation into dying languages in Dead Languages Conservatory (2004- ) took as its starting point the fact that, of the 65,000 languages in use today fewer than half are expected to survive into the next century. It was in 2005 however, with the publication of his Manual of Contemporary Art Style, that Helguera began to take a more irreverent look at the world in which he operated, fashioned as a guide to the etiquette of the art world for those just starting out the Manual of Contemporary Art Style offered advice as to whether a critic should sleep with an artist who’s work they do not like, appropriate actions for a collector to take when considering a new piece of art in relation to their current couch and how to approach a gallery tastefully.
The Manual of Contemporary Art Style has naturally lead to Helguera’s Artoons which were originally developed for the website but have since appeared in publications all over the world. They have indeed become so numerous that the anthologies now run to two volumes with a third already waiting in the wings. As well as continuing Artoons, Helguera has developed a new comic book project going by the name of The Adventures of Olmeco Beuys where Helguera takes us all the way back to the Pre-Columbian era to follow the trials of an under appreciated Olmec artist as he searches for recognition amongst a sea of critics, curators and collectors.
So be prepared to take yourself a little less seriously as we present here, for your enjoyment, a selection of those Artoons that have tickled the funny bones of the Umelec editors.



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