Rather than play the stuffy spoil-sport, Yale University Art Gallery Wednesday decided to hold onto a satiric plaque affixed to its building by the street artist “Believe in People”—and make sure the work survives.
The Chapel Street gallery announced that it won’t throw out the faux “historic” plaque (pictured) that it removed from the exterior of its building on April Fool’s Day.
Instead it will put it back up, in a glass case, for public viewing on Thursday. Then, if Believe in People (not pictured) doesn’t show up to claim the work, the gallery will donate it to an annual fund-raising auction held to benefit Artspace.
Believe in People claimed responsibility for creating the plaque and leaving it on a brick wall of the gallery on Tuesday.
Wednesday morning the gallery, in keeping with the view of 70 percent of Independent readers who participated in a “TrueVote” poll, released this statement:
“On April 1, 2014, a mysterious unsigned work of art was discovered affixed to the edifice of the Yale University Art Gallery’s 1953 Louis Kahn building, widely recognized as the architect’s first masterwork. Removed by Gallery staff for further research, the object which resembles an embossed brass plaque marking a national landmark is, in fact, a piece of carved and painted wood.
“Noting the object’s tongue-in-cheek humor as an artistic conveyance for more probing questions concerning the relationship between street art and art housed within museum walls, Gallery Director Jock Reynolds [pictured] announced that the museum ‘wishes to provide this orphaned object with a temporary and public home.’ It has therefore been decided by Gallery administration to place the work on view outside the museum’s main entrance on Chapel Street, on a pedestal and encased in a glass vitrine. Reynolds added, ‘It is in our interest as a teaching museum, steward of art, and community institution to return this work to a public venue for further contemplation and appreciation.’
“The work will be on view outside the museum on Thursday, April 3, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. The Yale University Art Gallery invites the artist to come and claim his or her work. Should the work remain unclaimed after two weeks, the Gallery will donate it to the annual benefit auction for ARTspace, New Haven’s community arts organization and exhibition space dedicated to championing emerging artists.”
Back in 2000 Jock Reynolds gave the first major exhibition to a then-unknown and underappreciated Newhallville artist named Winfred Rembert, who has since gone on to national acclaim and professional success.
An earlier version of this story follows:
Gallery Doesn’t “Believe In” This April Fool’s Gift
Street artist “Believe in People” marked April Fool’s Day by affixing an “historic” plaque outside the Yale University Art Gallery. The gallery apparently wasn’t amused.
The graffiti artist, whose striking and provocative pieces over the years have wowed the city and sparked debates about public art as well as race and class, announced in January that he was leaving town.
Whether as a parting gift or return visit, the artist was back at work on Chapel Street. He affixed the above faux “National Register of Historic Places” plaque on the brick wall by the bus shelter in front of the art gallery. The artist took credit for the work on his Twitter feed. “Making fun of myself, art culture, advertising, and vandalism, all in one send-up,” he wrote.
Chris Randall shot a photo of the plaque and posted it Tuesday morning on the I Love New Haven website.
By the time fans started showing up to view the piece, the gallery had already removed it; the lingering white adhesive was still sticky. This photo was taken around 11:30 a.m. The gallery didn’t immediately offer a comment about the episode; we’ll update the story when it does. Gallery director Jock Reynolds, reached by email, said he was traveling in New York and had “no knowledge” about the episode.
Headlined “National Register of Historic Places,” the Believe in People plaque proceeds to read:
“This plaque marks the spot on which Sam Dilvan used a felt marker to scrawl the minimalist yet emotionally complex tag, ‘Boobz.’ Preceding such works of artistic genius as ‘ass butt’ and ‘gilf magnet’. This occurred during his oft-celebrated ‘Ballz’ period. Although the original masterpiece is no longer visible, Dilvan’s penchant for using words carelessly throughout his environment remains a guiding force in modern society and culture.”
“Sam Dilvan” is an anagram of “vandalism.”