Thursday, November 14, 2013
Marfa’s famed Playboy bunny sign is coming to Dallas in spring 2014
The controversial set of bunny ears will be part of an art exhibition at Dallas Contemporary.
DESIGN DISTRICT Dallas ISD’s unearthing of a teacher's past with Playboy won’t be the city’s only run-in with the magazine in recent memory.
Come spring 2014, Marfa’s iconic, 40-foot Playboy bunny sculpture will be erected at Dallas Contemporary in Dallas as part of a solo exhibition for its creator, Richard Phillips. Erin Cluley, associate director of exhibitions at the art gallery, confirmed the move Thursday.
The piece, called “Playboy Marfa,” will make its Dallas debut in late March in the parking area of Dallas Contemporary, which sits in the Design District near the Trinity River. Cluley and the gallery’s executive director, Peter Doroshenko, have been working with Phillips for a year to curate a previously scheduled solo show, which features new, never-before-seen paintings. When his oversized pair of bunny ears needed a new home, Dallas seemed like the right place.
“With the nature of the installation coming down in Marfa, it made perfect sense to bring it in conjunction with the exhibition,” Cluley said.
“Playboy Marfa” caused a stir in June when it was installed on Highway 90 in the West Texas town. The neon bunny, a replica of Playboy’s logo, glowed next to a blacked-out 1972 Dodge Charger atop a concrete plinth as an ode to the literary culture birthed by the magazine, Phillips told Refinery29 recently.
Marfa resident Lineaus Lorette did not view “Playboy Marfa” that way. As a certified public accountant with experience in outdoor advertising, Lorette believed the structure was corporate advertising more than art, and filed a complaint. In July, the Texas Department of Transportation found the sign lacked the proper permit to stay in place and gave Playboy 45 days to remove the structure.
“I love that it’s leaving my town,” Lorette said by phone Thursday afternoon. He said the work caused a serious divide in Marfa: The Hispanic population as well as a large portion of the “thinking art community” did not approve of the bunny, while newer, richer residents enjoyed it, he said.
Lorette believes the structure was marketing “smut and sexism” and said there is nothing heroic in “Playboy Marfa” or Playboy magazine for women.
In Dallas, Cluley is excited to host the sign, stating Phillips’ work mirrors what Dallas Contemporary tries to do as an institution -- represent contemporary culture. Asked if she thought locals here would love or hate “Playboy Marfa,” she said, “I think it will go both ways, for sure.”
“Playboy Marfa” is one in a series of Playboy re-branding installations. The second, featuring an “artist edition” Dodge Charger, will be unveiled at the Art Basel art convention in Miami in December. A Playboy spokeswoman confirmed all three pieces -- the neon bunny sign, car and plinth -- will be making its way to Dallas. No word yet on if the installation will leave Dallas after Phillips’ show.
The currently untitled show opens on April 11, 2014 and runs through August 24, 2014.Follow @tineywristwatch