By Jennifer 8. Lee | April 21, 2008
Benjamin Wallace (author of the forthcoming book The Billionaire’s Vinegar) passed me this amazing artwork by Robert Deckey (his artist brother-in-law who apparently doesn’t have a Web site that I can dig out) — a portrait of Mao Zedong made out of hundreds of fortune cookies.
Here is some promotional information from his 2007 collection. (Don’t agree with idea that fortune cookies are “an American invention to inspire poor Chinese immigrants to work harder and have hope,” but whatever)
The artist was inspired by the dramatic contrast between a visit to China for the Shanghai Biennale in 2006, and the poverty and constraint he experienced in 1989. Many of the protesters in the 1989 Tiananmen Square Uprising wanted democracy but didnâ€™t know what it was. Today, many contemporary Chinese artists want to make art, but their definition of art is a parody of the commercialization they perceive in society. Many of Chinaâ€™s contemporary artist are making art â€œfor exportâ€ with commercial purpose and are missing the true value of the aesthetics of art. The artist is also interested in Chinaâ€™s uneasy relationship with the United States, which is both drawn to the communist republicâ€™s economic might and repelled by
its indifference to human rights and intellectual property laws.
Fortune cookies are an American invention to inspire poor Chinese immigrants to work harder and have hope.
The artist is American and was born in Rhode Island. He began making artwork at 5 when he attended a summer camp run by RISD students for children of professors, where his father taught. Robert has a bachelor of arts from Brown University, a masters from the University of Pennsylvania, and has studied painting at the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League in New York City.
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