Artist Nikolas Bentel is on a mission to destroy an original Robert Rauschenberg in a project intended to emphasize how the art market is, in his words, “a glorified stock market.” Beginning this week, the artist — who is part of the New Museum-led incubator New Inc. — is selling off sections of the artwork as advertising space, so its surface will eventually be covered with an eclectic assortment of images.
“Over the past few years, the art market has become way more interested in the monetary value of famous art pieces rather then their cultural importance,” Bentel told Hyperallergic. “My project is here to point out this problem by having the art world perform arbitrage on itself.”
The Rauschenberg in question is a signed 1973 print of “Sketch for Monogram,” which illustrates the artist’s thought process behind his eponymous “combine” of a stuffed goat and tire. Bentel does not technically own it yet, but has struck a deal with collector Ho Jae Kim, who agreed to sell the print to Bentel for $10,000. Bentel is now raising the money to slowly buy the entire print, which he will then immediately expunge with ads. One square inch will cost you $92.59.