Crocodile Tears: Buried Treasure (De Chirico V)

Accession Number

Crocodile Tears: Buried Treasure (De Chirico V)

Douglas Heubler

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
photograph and acrylic on canvas

40 15/16 in x 31 3/16 in x 1 7/8 in (103.98 cm x 79.22 cm x 4.76 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the W. Hawkins Ferry Fund

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Crocodile Tears: Buried Treasure (De Chirico V) is part of a series of works combining comic strips, paintings aping the styles of famous artists, and extracts from Huebler’s open-ended work Variable Piece #70: Global, his quixotic attempt “to photographically document the existence of everyone alive.”
The protagonists are often artists hemmed in by the economic and stylistic structures of the art world: Dana and Palmer, the characters featured in this episode, forge paintings by De Chirico, Picasso, and Magritte, among others, for an unscrupulous dealer who sells them as newly discovered originals. The paintings are never exact reproductions of historical paintings. Instead they are immediately recognizable as fakes, intended to critique the notion of a “signature style.”
Crocodile Tears reflects, in large part, Huebler’s disgust at how avant-garde artistic movements are often reduced to mere styles, drained of their critical power and simply “lined up in the fashion parade of art as yet another example of avant-garde style,” one more product to be marketed and consumed.

Subject matter
This work comes from a series, Buried Treasure, which was part of a body of work Huebler created in relation to a screenplay he completed in 1981.  That work featured storylines describing the more criminal aspects of an art market focused almost completely on commercial gain.  In specific, Huebler comments on the sky-high prices of the art market, the deep pockets needed to enter that market, and the exclusive, insider nature of art collecting. This is juxtaposed against a photograph that “represents at least one person who never looks back” at a homeless man passed on the street.

Physical Description
This vertical piece has a color photograph on the bottom showing people walking along a city street. Above are comic-strip-style illustrations in black acrylic on white paper, within five frames.  The middle bottom frame of different style than the others. The title "Crocodile Tears: Buried Treasure" appears at the top, and the whole work is mounted and framed.

Primary Object Classification
Mixed Media

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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art market
cartoons (humorous images)
cityscapes (representations)
forgery (crime)
modern and contemporary art

& Author Notes

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