For three decades, in artworks and writing David Robbins has promoted a frank, unapologetic recognition of the contemporary overlap between the art and entertainment contexts. His work Talent (1986) is widely credited with announcing the age of the celebrity artist, and The Ice Cream Social (1993 - 2008), a multi-platform project which included a TV pilot for the Sundance Channel, a novella, installations, ceramics, and performance has been cited by Hans Ulrich Obrist as pioneering the "expanded exhibition." Progressively evolving away from the prevailing model of the professional contemporary artist, in his books High Entertainment (2009) and Concrete Comedy: An Alternative History of Twentieth-Century Comedy he identified and advanced other categories of imaginative endeavor. Among his six books are The Velvet Grind: Selected Essays, Interview, Satires 1983 - 2005 (2006) and The Camera Believes Everything (1988). Ten years ago he withdrew from active participation in the art world in order to discover how his imagination performed when not formatted to produce art, and began using the term "independent imagination" in place of "artist." Subsequently re-locating to Milwaukee he has aligned his work with contexts and formats historically foresaken by the avant garde, positing the suburb as a frontier for art production and creating TV commercials for galleries. His work is featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Most recently, his "Theme Song For An Exhibition," a ground-breaking experiment in digital distribution, was launched internationally, on the same day, by 11 art museums, including the Serpentine, London, and MOCA, Los Angeles.
Why oh why are we interested in celebrities? As a phenomenon, celebrity takes up an ever-increasing amount of cultural real estate. It rudely elbows aside far more dignified pursuits, has failed to launch much of substance from territory already annexed, and can hardly be said to appeal to our higher instincts.
David Robbins is an artist and author. His most recent books are High Entertainment (2009) and Concrete Comedy: An Alternative History of Twentieth-Century Comedy (2011).