Manhattan’s Museum of New or Traditional Art (NOTaMUSEUM) is a complete fake, and that’s intentional


The sign on the door at 393 Broadway says “Closed for Installation,” but artist Robin Eley hopes you’ll break the rules and get in anyway.

If you do, you’ll find a fictional museum called the Museum of New or Traditional Art (NOTaMUSEUM) where it looks like an exhibition featuring some of the greatest works of art of all time is about to open. But the artworks are actually recreations of Eley’s works that are not generally available to the public because they are privately owned, lost, or stolen. Eley created the pieces in stunning detail, painting an illusory layer of bubble wrap or tape over each with such a realistic brushstroke that the veiled artwork appears three-dimensional.

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Photography: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan | It looks like a museum, but it isn’t.

Called “Private collection / Closed for installation”, the exhibition is free from September 17 to 25. The works have never been shown together before, and they will never be shown together again as each piece has already sold out and will soon. head to their buyers.

The exhibition features 17 oil paintings and a bronze sculpture representing works of art such as “Dustheads” by Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Le Rêve” by Pablo Picasso, “Turquoise Marilyn” by Andy Warhol, ” Salvator Mundi” by Leonardo da Vinci, “The Three Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh. , “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of ​​Galilee” by Rembrandt, “Self-Portrait with Monkey” by Frida Kahlo and the sculpture “The Man with a Finger” by Alberto Giacometti. Eley created each hyper-realistic piece over four years, strikingly echoing Post-Impressionism, Pop Art, Cubism, and more.

The artwork pairs well with the remarkably precise set design by renowned creative director David Korins (he did the set design for hamilton and designed the mega-popular Immersive van Gogh experience). It may be NOTaMUSEUM, but Korins has transformed an empty space to make you feel like you’re in a museum with diagonal hardwood floors, rich colors on the walls, and ornate moldings. Korins designed the show to look like it’s being set up with moving cushions, tools and wooden crates adorning the room. He also added “Easter eggs” throughout the gallery, such as a ball near the Warhol painting as a nod to the history of paintings drawn.

“From a dramatic narrative standpoint, it’s incredibly rich,” Korins said.

As co-producers, Korins and Eley presented the work as veiled pieces in crates to explore what it means to keep artworks out of the public eye and spark discussions about the public value of art.

“The idea of ​​the exhibition is a question of access. It’s a matter of privilege,” Eley said, adding that it’s also about commodification, especially in the digital age. Take, for example, van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Van Gogh painted sunflowers as mere decorations for his studio. Paintings like this present a paradox, Eley explained: We all know these works because they are extremely famous and easy to find online, but the works are also extremely expensive and really accessible to very few. The sunflower paintings would sell for billions, he said, “a complete departure from what the artist had anticipated”.

A depiction of Pablo Picasso's Dream veiled in plastic wrap and tape.
Photography: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan | A representation of Pablo Picasso’s Dream.

Artwork has also become commonplace for the extremely wealthy, which often means the public doesn’t get to see the original pieces. Leonardo da Vinci’s ultra-controversial ‘Salvator Mundi’ painting belongs to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who apparently refused to show it to the Louvre due to questions about its authenticity. Eley presents his own version of the painting at the NOTaMUSEUM.

Given the high value of some pieces, they are ripe for theft, and Eley wanted to pay homage to the works that have been stolen, such as Rembrandt’s painting “Storm on the Sea of ​​Galilee”, nicked from one of the most notorious art heists.

“The idea of ​​this museum is that it was able to create these pieces from scratch,” he said.

Visit NOTaMUSEUM at Lume Studios (393 Broadway in Manhattan) from September 17 to 25 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The show is free and reservations/tickets are not required.


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