Thursday, March 22, 2007


Bob & Bob was a flaky performance art team in the 1970s. They painted themselves yellow and silver and conducted "happenings" in rooms filled with popcorn or foam rubber. They named their happenings "Sex is Stupid" or "Forget Everything You Know." Sometimes Bob & Bob would perform songs against materialistic society:

People go to school and learn from books
Then they get degrees
Then they get a job and drive a Porsche
Bob & Bob had no apparent drawing skills. A booklet of their work describes the team's technique for drawing:

The drawings were nothing more than scribbles but the two found something harmonious there so they decided to draw together on the same sheet of paper.
They also performed comedy routines. Fortunately, Bob & Bob faded away like disco with the dawn of the 1980s. So why am I wasting your time with them? Because recently I looked at some of their drawings and was astonished to find they were truly excellent. I think these deserve a wider audience.

As part of their campaign against capitalism, Bob & Bob copied photographs from the annual reports of banks and large corporations. They drew the corporate executives and boards of directors with magic markers in a crude way. The results were absolutely devastating.

Said Bob & Bob:"These poor bankers have spent their whole lives in classrooms and offices and all they have to show for it is money and wrinkles. We wanted to turn them into art." I find these drawings more lacerating than the art of widely acclaimed social critics such as George Grosz, R. Crumb or Gerald Scarfe.

I am surprised that two goofy featherweights like Bob & Bob were able to produce something so dark and trenchant. These drawings seem close in spirit and quality to the work of Francis Bacon and Marshall Arisman.


The alchemy of art is so unpredictable, unlikely artists sometimes produce surprising results. Were these drawings intentional or just a lovely accident? I don't know, but they are another reason why (as if another were needed) the time to stop looking with fresh eyes at new artists is never.