Believe the Hype! How PR Took the Art World

“That was covered on Perez Hilton,” PR agent Michelle Finocchi announced proudly to The Observer. She wasn’t talking about a Kim Kardashian marriage breakup or wardrobe mishap but was instead referring to an artwork, Lindsay Lohan, a short film by artist Richard Phillips, which debuted last June on the Gagosian Gallery YouTube channel and at the Venice Biennale, before getting picked up by the tabloids—all part of Ms. Finocchi’s plan.

We’d called Ms. Finocchi to ask her about PR’s incursion into the art world. Yes, PR. Before going further, let’s get the bite-the-hand-that-feeds-us stuff out of the way: this is an article about publicists and the art world. Now more than ever, PR controls access (or at least tries to) in the art world—when journalists know things, how we know things, whether or not we get to know things in the first place. We wanted to take a look at how that became the case; in what follows we’re not biting the hand that feeds us. We’re just, you know, examining it.
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