Apollo Magazine

Sacha Baron Cohen sends up the art world (again)

In his new show, What is America?, the comedian foists some pungent art on a gallerist in California. It's not the first time he's fooled the art world

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Love him or loathe him, Sacha Baron Cohen is back. For his new show, Who is America?, the comic has interviewed a wide range of figures from across the US political and cultural spectrum, as ever adopting grotesque and ludicrous personae to lampoon his subjects.

In one encounter, the Californian art gallery owner Christy Cones faces a barrage of absurd questions from Baron Cohen’s ex-con character Rick Sherman. In the course of the interview, Sherman presents Cones with his paintings – created using his own bodily fluids. ‘When he handed me the painting he said he made in prison with his own waste, it stunk,’ she told the Washington Post.

All the while, Cones believed that the interview was completely in earnest. But she is not the first art-world figure to be duped by Baron Cohen. Back in 1999, he interviewed then-Christie’s chairman Lord Hindlip in the guise of Ali G. Highlights of the exchange included a debate as to whether art was ‘more about drawing, or more about colouring in’, a less-than-scholarly analysis of the Turner Prize and some rather alarming misapprehensions about Van Gogh’s anatomy.

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