Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kick arts

What’s the last thing you’d expect to see in a Napoleon Dynamite-meets-Kill Bill 2 flick set in New York? How about contemporary British art from the YBAs? That’s what you get in Kick-Ass, a movie about a normal kid who decides to become a super hero. 

To show off his true evilness and greed, the villain, Frank D’Amico (just like his corporate equivalent Gordon Gekko) owns a large art collection which is displayed in his, you guessed it, penthouse apartment. Oddly for an American gangster, D’Amico shows off British artists like Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn. Indeed Quinn’s blood head Self greets fellow gangsters at the elevator (Quinn makes the heads out of five pints of his own blood every five years, Vegas Picasso piercer Steve Cohen owns the original 1991 version, Texans Cindy and Howard Rachofsky 1996, Kim Chang-il 2001 and the National Portrait Gallery in London 2006 so, as a new one’s not due until next year, maybe it's a stunt double). And useful too as heroine Hit Girl uses it as a shield to save being splattered by automatic gunfire during the final shoot-out. There’s also a Hirst spin painting, a butterfly work and a classic dot painting in the hall. In the office things turn a little more American with a couple of Andy Warhol Gun paintings on either side of the door and Ed Ruscha’s painting Brave men, but Brits rule. 

Why all this British art in New York? The answer lies in the movie having been made in the UK by British producer/director Matthew Vaughn who with his wife Claudia Schiffer owns a lot of the work on screen, apart we assume from the versions that get shredded by gunfire. Vaughn has said of the two Warhol gun paintings in the gangster’s office, “I was a bit cynical there. I put them in hoping they would become more iconic and shoot up in value.”

Images top to bottom, left to right: Marc Quinn's Self in the hallway, Hit Girl uses Self's refrigeration unit for cover, Hirst dot painting and perhaps a Tim Noble and Sue Webster neon, one of the two Warhol gun paintings,  Ruscha and the inevitable Rothko.