How Duchamp’s Urinal Changed Art Forever
In the present work, Mike Bidlo has looked to the Italian conceptual artist, Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) and his 1962 print portfolio, 8 Tavole di accertamento (8 Tables of assessment), as a source of inspiration. Bidlo has taken the concept of appropriation and sent it off on a diagonal, for what clearly appears as Manzoni’s left thumbprint from his 1960 offset lithograph, Impronte pollice sinistro, is in actuality Mike Bidlo’s own left thumbprint. As opposed to Bidlo appropriating Manzoni’s thumbprint, Manzoni’s artwork, Bidlo has appropriated Manzoni’s concept (and format), thus begging the question: Is the observer simply viewing the print, taking for granted it is Manzoni’s thumbprint appropriated by Bidlo, or is the viewer actually looking at it. For Manzoni, the fingerprint was the most minimal physical trace of the artist imaginable – one that symbolized the unmistakable identity of the person and the artist. Mike Bidlo has borrowed Manzoni’s concept of raising his fingerprint image to the level of art through the printing process but by utilizing his own fingerprint in the same format, Bidlo has wryly made it his own artistic postulation.
Signature: Signed, dated and numbered in pencil
Publisher: World House Editions, Middlebury, Connecticut
A controversial figure known for his appropriation of paintings, sculptures, and performances by 20th-century masters such as Picasso, Warhol, Duchamp, and Pollock, Mike Bidlo approaches iconic modernist works as readymades. Bidlo has staged renowned performances re-enacting Warhol’s Factory and Pollock’s action paintings and famous act of urinating into Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace. For Matisse/Picasso: A Cross Examination (2003), Bidlo produced large-scale murals of Picasso’s and Matisse’s heads on the walls of MOMA’s PS1, appropriated from the two artists’ self-portraits. A central member of the appropriationist movement in 1980s New York, Bidlo associated with Philip Taaffe and Sherrie Levine. “Tight-assed art historical taboos,” he has said, “I’m interested in exploring and penetrating those taboos.”
American, b. 1953, Chicago, Illinois, based in New York, New York