Artnet News: Darren Bader Just Executed an Ingenious Conceptual Artwork

July 22, 2020

Taylor Dafoe

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Artist Darren Bader Just Executed an Ingenious Conceptual Artwork Under Everyone’s Noses. How? By Saying He’s Represented by David Zwirner
By: Taylor Dafoe

As the small pool of mega galleries hoovers up more and more of the art world by the day, the stream of emails announcing X rising artist has signed on with Y dealer seems unending.

Darren Bader is the latest name to join this trend, according to an announcement that went out today. The playful 42-year-old conceptualist, known for difficult-to-categorize works like French Horn With/and Guacamole (or Other ‘Sauce’)—which is exactly what the title says it is—is now being represented by… Zavid Dwirner?

In a send-up of vampiric blue-chip dealers, Bader sent out a press release that purported to be from gallery David Zwirner. “David Zwirner is pleased to announce its representation of Darren Bader in New York, Paris, and Hong Kong,” it read. The announcement had the exact look and layout of a typical Zwirner “Now Representing” email down to a tee.

For the discerning reader, there was just one telling clue: it was sent by

It was, of course, not real. Bader is still represented by Sadie Coles HQ in London, Blum & Poe in LA, Andrew Kreps in New York, and Galleria Franco Noero in Torino. “Always fun to be the subject of a good prank, and a good prank it is!” David Zwirner told Artnet in a statement. “We wish Darren all the best, but we aren’t working with him. It seems like he is represented by Zavid Dwirner.” 

Bader declined to comment.

The fake release is exact enough to fool an overworked art journalist. On close inspection, though, there were other hints to the artist’s machinations at work. Whereas most roster announcements arrive with an effusive bio of the artist de jour, Bader’s was filled with self-effacing jabs and quotes from critics unimpressed with his notoriously recalcitrant art.

“Bader is often seen as one of the more unusual artists of the past two decades. Equal parts iconoclast and enthusiast, his work has invited lively conversation as to what art can function as in our ever-expanding times,” the email reads. “Susanne Pfeffer has called Bader, ‘A blithe busybody, as stupidly sans souci as he is winsomely worrisome.’”

“Anthony Huberman has called Bader’s work, ‘Equivocation at its least welcome pitch,’” the email continued. “Hou Hanru has candidly commented, ‘I don’t really understand the work. I hate to say this, but I don’t have the time for it.'”

Click on the unflattering portrait of Bader at the top and it leads to a website where examples of the artist’s work are for sale with 25 percent of the proceeds promised to charities like the Innocence Project and the National Bailout Fund. 

As his fake bio suggests, Bader’s output is among the most polarizing in the contemporary art world. Among other highlights, he’s sold his Instagram and Twitter profiles, let loose a pair of goats in a gallery, and injected a slice of lasagna with heroin. The title of the latter work? Lasagna on Heroin.

These works all straddle the line between conceptual art and prank. Today’s announcement, then, seems like just the latest twist in his body of work.

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