new-york

Jack Pierson

Cheim & Read

Jack Pierson has been long associated with a particular brand of Dumpster diving, one that produces oddly affecting sculptures—part ransom notes, part concrete poetry—out of winsomely all-American salvaged signage. His is the culled and repurposed stuff of roadside diners and theater marquees, but it also became the source of an altogether different kind of folklore in 2006, when his nostalgic style was appropriated by Barneys New York creative director Simon Doonan, who himself employed three-dimensional vintage letters to spell eye-catching and shopper-friendly words like fabulous for store displays. I’m not sure how interesting this controversy is now (or even was at the time), except to say that it turned on surprisingly old-school aesthetic criteria. According to Cheim & Read, Doonan’s signs were “formally weak plagiarized versions” of Pierson’s work. The artist himself was also

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