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Rob Pruitt at The Brant Foundation: Emojis, Pandas, and a Flea Market

To celebrate his 50th birthday, this Rob Pruitt on May 10 took over the Brant family’s renovated barn, The Brant Foundation in Greenwich, CT, with a thoughtfully curated collection of works that spans the last 16 years of his practice. The artist said of the show, “I’m excited by the opportunity to present my work in a space that is not a typical anonymous white cube, but a thoughtfully orchestrated succession of rooms–rooms that are already developing their own legacy with the shows that have come before me, and reflect the connoisseurship of a family I’ve grown quite fond of.”

The show begins in the Fireplace Room with a collection of Pruitt’s “Glitter Panda” paintings and an Evian water fountain. Next, a small antechamber contains 40 dense oils of Marilyn Monroe painted over digital prints from Ikea, a homage to the Warhols that Peter Brant has been collecting for the past 30 years. From there, we find the artist’s splashy silver, pink, and red “Abstract Expressionist” series from 2006, juxtaposed with a sculpture of dancing, denim-donning cement legs. Down the stairs, Pruitt converted the largest room with doubly high ceilings into a “chapel of gradient face paintings,” his emotive take on the ubiquitous emoji.

Perhaps the most exciting and curiosity-inducing portion of the show comes last: a reiteration of Pruitt’s “Flea Market,” which he’s been creating in various venues since 1999. But this version isn’t any old flea, it’s a Brant Family Flea Market. Each member of the family did, in Pruitt’s words, “a bit of spring cleaning,” to provide merchandise for the market. This is a rather humorous and antithetical concept when one considers the bargain-hunting, flea market setup contrasted with the unquestionably expensive designer items sure to be on sale. It certainly causes curiosity about what sort of items and “flea market prices” might mean when we’re talking about the Brant’s collection of Chanel, Saint Laurent, and Armani. Pricing aside, the market’s proceeds benefit a charity of the family’s choosing, still undisclosed.

Pruitt’s version of an epilogue for the show, a newly revised 101 Art Ideas You Can Do Yourself, is on sale at the information desk. The artist encourages visitors to “Take home a copy, give it a try,” adding cheekily, “You might find that I’m no better than you (except for the fact that I have a show at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center… and you don’t!).”


Rob Pruitt is on view at The Brant Foundation through September. A feature on the artist will appear in the summer issue of Whitewall, out in June.







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