"Playboy Marfa," the Magazine's Art Installation on Highway 90, Must Be Removed, State Says

Categories: Arts

playboy-marfa-texas-richard-phillips-neville-wakefield-standard-high-line-new-york.jpg
The piece, as it was unveiled by Playboy.
Since it went up in late June, the giant Playboy logo alongside U.S. Highway 90 has stopped passersby and sparked debate in Marfa, the West Texas tourist town known for its modernist flair.

Now it has to come down, the state says.

The Texas Department of Transportation has ordered Playboy to remove the massive bunny within 45 days, since the company doesn't have a permit to advertise there and couldn't get one if it wanted. Playboy says it's art and plans to fight the order.

The piece, by Richard Phillips, includes a neon Playboy logo and a hollowed out Dodge Charger. It went up without fanfare, and with Playboy seemingly hoping to install it without much explanation. But that didn't last, reports the El Paso Times.

In a June 20 press statement, Playboy said Phillips would "spend the next several months reimagining the classic car through his artistic lens. His interpretation of the Dodge Charger will be revealed at the end of 2013."

Playboy has indicated the art installation is temporary.

Wakefield, commenting on the decision to locate the sculpture near Marfa, said: "As both an all-American roadside town and an art world mecca, Marfa occupies a particular place in the popular imagination.

"Marfa provides the perfect backdrop to launch an artist car collaboration with one of America's most iconic brands."

Landis Smithers, creative director at Playboy, described the project as "an indication of our commitment to creating moments that appeal to a younger, culturally engaged generation of men and women."

"As we reinvigorate Playboy through art and culture, Marfa was deemed the ideal location to reiterate to the world our commitment to art and design as it relates to the lifestyle Playboy represents today," Smithers said.

But locals aren't impressed. An accountant filed a complaint with the state, which led to the removal order. And a columnist in the local paper called the piece "the ugliest and most offensive structure that I have seen for a long time."

This story will be appear in the 2014 edition of the anthology Best American Writing About Playboy Art Installations That Doesn't Include the Word "Erect," published by Houghton Mifflin.

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41 comments
EdD.
EdD.

Meanwhile, the area Dodge dealers are laughing all the way to the bank. (Somehow.)

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Hell, that's at least as artistic as Ft. Worth's life-sized "Last Supper". 

rain392
rain392

For those of us coming of age in the 50's and 60's, this is iconic.  It fits with the Mad Men view of the world and is fondly remembered by those of us of a certain age.  If you were lucky enough to be a young adult in Chicago, Hugh's crazy playboy mansion was combined with the best jazz I can remember, including now.   Met Heffner sitting at his desk in 1959 and had a little chat.  Can't even remember why that happened.  Oh, the old college days in Chicago!  Today looks like the 7 levels of hell next to that era.  Leave the art alone, or bring it to Dallas where we can enjoy it!

Threeboys
Threeboys

Is that Wendy Davis underneath the car?

She's hot.

don.abbott
don.abbott

Both Fort Davis and Marathon are way cooler than Marfa.  Both aren't full of people who just couldn't take Austin anymore, just people who couldn't take Dallas anymore.

flinch1
flinch1

Richard Phillips wants people to believe his fascination with celebrities is "ironic". That posture didn't work back even when it was supposed to. Are we to believe that New York is out of ideas? Jesus, where's Jeff Koons when you need him? At least he had ideas. Dick Fillupz is not even a good porn star name. Please remove him from our cultural landscape.

flinch1
flinch1

This has nothing to do with being prude or religious. Anyone in Marfa can tell you this is just a silly, uninspired parody of Donald Judd's concrete structures. Regardless of the playboy bunny, it's just lame. Having the playboy bunny there makes it both lame and inane. The fact that they call the guy who "designed" this an "artist" should mean the end of some careers. Unless of course it originated at the Heritage Foundation.

Scott W. Hatfield
Scott W. Hatfield

..and Cadillac Ranch can't be construed as an advertising installation ??? puritan hypocrites~!

Obummer
Obummer

Yo as long as Sandra Fluke be get’in her free birf controls pills what diff’ do it make?

Gary Mitchell
Gary Mitchell

That's too bad. Marfa is such a cool lil town.

ChangingF8
ChangingF8

Regardless of what it is there for, it's just dumb looking.

Alicia Prado
Alicia Prado

Because some guy out there with nothing better to do looked up to see if they had a permit for advertising in Texas (which they do not need because it is art) and then he filed a complaint. Lame.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

According to the quotes from the El Paso Times, it seems that this is more of a marketing effort by Playboy Enterprises than an art installation.


However, it is all how you spin it.  I would have said:


"Playboy Enterprises was contacted by an artist who wished to use an item to which Playboy Enterprises holds a copyright.  We worked with the artist to ensure that his artwork did not infringe on our copyright and presented our brand in a manner consistent with the icon status which it has in America.  We are pleased that this artist incorporated our copyrighted material to such a significant piece of artistic endeavor.


We regret that TXDOT considers this to be a form of advertising.  This art installation was neither initiated nor executed by Playboy Enterprises.  Our sole involvement was to provide a license to use one of our copyrighted images."


{Meanwhile, behind the scenes at Playboy Headquarters, "Good one Landis, now then lets see what other pieces we can install ..."}

sstrong421
sstrong421

So Prada Marfa, which is essentially a Prada store on the side of he highway is art.  But this isn't?  Is Playboy too mainstream for the hipsters in Marfa?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

"West Texas town with a modernist flair"   WTF???  you're trying too hard, and have lapsed into unsupported/unsupportable territory.  Adding description when it's just something you pull out of your ass is BAD reporting. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@rain392 

I suppose a corporate logo randomly placed along the freeway next to a late 20th century gas-guzzler on a pedestal probably qualifies as art to some. Appreciation of art is, after all, a very subjective and personal thing.

But I just gotta'  think the whole bathrobe & pipe schtick is lost on millenials.

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

@Tyler Chevis Lagaly It's grammar.  Try it sometime.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@ChangingF8 thats what great about art, you think its dumb, someone else thinks its a masterpiece

toms
toms

@Alejandro Monjaras you clearly haven't ever been there.

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

@scottindallas Yeah.  I agree.  Everyone knows that it's actually a "West Texas town with a post-modernist flair."

ChangingF8
ChangingF8

@ScottsMerkin What is so masterful about it? It looks like a car about to run over the playboy logo. Yeah that's masterful alright. 

glenn.hunter
glenn.hunter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul 

I doubt if it's about sex. Probably more about looking down on an "un-cool" symbol that many Marfans (Marfistas?) no doubt consider regressive and sexist, not up to their elevated "artistic standards."

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