Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
Carlo Crivelli (1435–95) was wont to position little flies on his canvases, hyperrealistic bugs that, through trompe l’oeil, made his paintings come to life. Something not dissimilar happened at the annual Met Gala last night, when a cockroach appeared on the red carpet to turn the typically star-studded, but otherwise sedate event into pandemonium.
The incident leads Rakewell to reflect that this is by no means the first occasion that a cockroach has entered a hallowed New York arts establishment. In the 1950s, Andy Warhol is said to have unzipped a portfolio for an art director on Madison Avenue, only for one of the little beasties to leap out. And the party-crashing power of the humble roach was harnessed to great effect by David Wojnarowicz in the 1980s, who notoriously released hundreds of his ‘cockabunnies’ – live roaches with cotton tails and paper ears attached – into an exhibition at PS1 in 1982.
It is with deep sadness that we must report the #MetGala cockroach was stepped on. #RIP pic.twitter.com/cqtmfFNaKV
— Variety (@Variety) May 2, 2023
When the cockroach’s brief but brilliant turn at the Met was snuffed out by a pitiless foot, social media users were quick to dub it ‘an icon gone too soon’. Your correspondent is reminded of the old joke: what’s worse than finding a cockroach in the Big Apple?
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