David Bruce: The Funniest People in Art — Advertising, AIDS


• Surrealist artist Salvador Dali was outrageous. He once greeted reporters while waving a loaf of bread — which was eight feet long — over his head. He also once wore a tuxedo to a public event — a close look at the tuxedo revealed numerous artificial flies pinned to it. Another time, he arrived in a Rolls-Royce for the opening of an exhibition — the car was filled with cauliflowers. In 1936, he began to give a talk while dressed in an airtight underwater diving suit. Unfortunately, this stunt nearly resulted in his death. He wasn’t able to breathe, and it took his audience some time to figure out what was wrong and get his diving helmet off. What kind of art did such a man create? An old Cadillac forms part of a work of art called Rainy Taxi — put a coin in a slot and rain falls inside the Cadillac.

• R. Crumb’s “Keep on Truckin’” drawing became omnipresent during the late 1960s and early 1970s. As so often happens, business later tried to co-opt what was once considered avant garde and controversial. Toyota wished to pay Mr. Crumb lots of money so it could use the drawing and its characters in advertisements for its vehicles. However, Mr. Crumb was unwilling to let Toyota use that particular drawing, suggesting instead that it use a drawing of a headless woman being stuffed into the trunk of a Toyota. Unfortunately, Toyota disliked that idea.

• A marble cutter once took advantage of an unusual opportunity for an advertisement. On his deceased wife’s grave monument, he carved, “Here lies Jane Smith, wife of Thomas Smith, marble cutter. This monument was erected by her husband as a tribute to her memory and a specimen of his work. Monuments of the same style 350 dollars.”

• Dr. Seuss always said that he couldn’t draw, and therefore his drawings were always filled with “exaggerated mistakes.” While working as a commercial artist creating drawings for advertisements, he drew a goat that an ad representative thought was a duck. Dr. Seuss then drew a duck — the ad representative thought it was a goat.


• The very first panel in the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt commemorated Marvin Feldman, whose best friend was Cleve Jones, founder of the Names Project. Mr. Jones was despondent following the death of Mr. Feldman. One afternoon he and a friend were in a garage talking about the friends they had lost to AIDS, and as they talked they painted names and designs upon some fabric. This was therapeutic, so Mr. Jones invited other people to help create a quilt of panels commemorating people who had died of AIDS. Today, the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt is the largest collectively created work of art in the world.

• While studying at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Keith Haring used to create art on long lengths of paper — the paper was so long that he rolled it out the door and onto the city sidewalk. Passersby used to talk to him about his art. Mr. Haring later said, “Most of them weren’t the type to go to art galleries, but a lot of their comments struck me as more perceptive than those of my teachers and fellow students.” In 1990, Mr. Haring died of AIDS.


• Rosebud, the pet cat of children’s book author (and artist) Tom Wharton, enjoyed a good book. She liked to sit on whatever book Mr. Wharton was reading, so after a while, Mr. Wharton started giving her books of her own to sit on — Moby Dick, Puss in Boots, etc. For a couple of years, she sat happily on Gone With the Wind as Mr. Wharton read another book. Being a cat, she is a slow reader. Mr. Wharton turns the page for her only every couple of days.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Music Recommendation: The Follow Ups — “Heart on My Sleeve”


Music: “Heart on My Sleeve”

Artist: The Follow Ups

Artist Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Info: “The Follow Ups hail from Eastern Canada where they’ve been smashing out Ramones-core Punk Rock since 2017.”

Price: Name Your Price (Includes FREE) for single track or eight-track album

Genre: Punk. Pop Punk. Heavy Ramones Influence.


The Follow Ups on Bandcamp