Four Artists You Should Know

December 2, 2008

From the modern art chapter of my forthcoming coffee table book, "Things My Guests Should Know":

Wilhelm der Roosten, Munich, Germany (1963 - ). Born in Nutley, New Jersey to third-generation Irish leatherworkers, der Roosten moved with his family to East Germany in 1971 in search of greater opportunity. This transformative relocation has become the inspiring theme for much of the artist's portfolio, which combines sculpture and performance art; his most famous work, "Mason Luna," has featured the artist attempting to break through a cinderblock chrysalis since March 1983, with only one arm free as of publication. Despite the limitations of being wrapped in cinderblocks, der Roosten has continued to work tirelessly. "Oblast in White," a 3-hour interpretation of Cold War using one sock puppet and a Diet Coke, opened to extremely posititve reviews at P.S. 1 in November 2004.

Anya Dingera, Auckland, New Zealand (1949 -). An assistant ranch hand on a sheep ranch until the age of 43, in 1992 Dingera was struck by lightning and then was trampled by a flock of spooked ewes; on awakening from a coma in 1994 she immediately began work on a series of large installation pieces evoking the gentle intricacies of mortality, produced primarily by electrocuting sheep and scattering them around large fields. Despite a complete lack of artistic training and an inability or lack of desire to speak, Dingera is now widely acclaimed as one of the most insightful students of the human condition, as her instillations have produced astonishing crowd reactions, and complaints about the smell, in cities worldwide.

Sal da Vinci, Peioria, Illinois (1953- ). The most accomplished peformance artist in the world. Since birth, this dedicated artist has poignantly mocked the Middle America experience by living the life of a Meineke brake specialist for the last 55 years. In his relentless focus, da Vinci has gone so far as to endure two marriages to mildly unattractive women, three overweight and ungrateful children and regular floating credit card debt, mixed with intermittent layoffs at the Meineke, all the while insisting angrily to observers that he is not an artist and that they should get the hell off his lawn, which is mostly crab grass.

Philipe Schwa, Santiago, Chile (1973- ). The son of a Colombian oil baron and a Left Bank prostitute, Schwa inherited $328 million at the age of 19 when both of his parents and all five of his siblings died in a tragic marina fire in the Atacama desert. His wealth has afforded him the raw materials necessary to pursue his own artistic vision: Schwa purchases Impressionist masterpieces at auction, dips them in red paint and then presses them against naked swimsuit models. He then copulates with the models, often on a bed of money, or cocaine.

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