The Bar’s the Art—Framed in a Hangover?
German artist Tobias Rehberger has a favorite watering hole in Frankfurt called the Bar Oppenheimer. For the Frieze Art Fair, he and gallery Pilar Corrias made a duplicate of it in Hôtel Americano in Chelsea that will be operating through July 14. It is what Duchamp would have called an “assisted readymade,” with the assist here being that Rehberger redid all the bar’s surfaces with a bizarre camouflage pattern derived from the “dazzle ships” of World War I. You feel drunk before even consuming one of Rehberger’s signature vodka and limes. (He better not turn to mixology ...) All of this is pretty standard art-world stuff and rather too invested in the cliché of the louche, scene-y artist. What particularly struck me, however, was that Rehberger has opened another duplicate of the same original bar on the far side of Frankfurt, but insists that that facsimile is just a bar and not a work of art. Keeping this distinction between art and nonart, even if it’s only made by fiat, shows a real understanding of how readymades have to work.
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