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Bunnies in Texas: Playboy Marfa by Richard Phillips

Film by Adrian Gaut for Playboy.

Two playmates in full-on bunny ears and bushy tails made a rare appearance at The Standard in New York last night. The occasion? A dinner hosted by artist Richard Phillips and Neville Wakefield celebrating the launch of “Playboy Marfa.”

“Playboy Marfa” is the second project under Wakefield’s creative direction for Playboy, a long-time collaborator with artists. Phase one, the cause of last night’s celebration, is an installation on the side of the road in Marfa, Texas done by Phillips.

As guests like Stefano Tonchi, Landis Smithers, Ryan McGinness, Marco Brambilla, Kyle DeWoody, and Evan Yurman sat down for a family-style dinner of seasonal sides and proteins, a video played showing Phillips’ outdoor installation of a blacked-out 1972 Dodge charger on a tilted cement plinth next to a neon Playboy bunny sign.

Playboy’s Creative Director Smithers told the crowd of art and fashion influencers that this marked a new direction for the iconic brand, an initiative that appeals to “a younger, culturally engaged generation of men and women.” And Phillips, explaining the inspiration behind the site-specific work, treated us to a story of stealing his dad’s Playboys from a locked desk drawer at quite a young age.

“As both an all-American roadside town and an art world mecca, Marfa occupies a particular place in the popular imagination. Marfa provides the perfect backdrop to launch an artist car collaboration with one of America’s most iconic brands,” said Wakefield.

The next phase of Playboy Marfa will see Phillips reimagining the Dodge Charger and will be revealed at the end of 2013.

Born in Massachusetts in 1962, Richard Phillips lives and works in New York.  Phillips is known for his large-scale glossy hyper-realistic paintings, recalling the pictorial style of magazines from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and reflecting traditions of popular image culture. Drawn from found imagery, his work deals with the marketability of man, his wishes, ideas, actions, identity, sexuality, politics, and desires.  Perhaps more so than any other contemporary painter of his kind, Phillips’ imagery has achieved a level of pop recognition outside the art world with fashion, media and film collaborations.

Art and publishing luminary Neville Wakefield has served as Senior Curatorial Advisor for MoMa/PS1, Curator of the Frieze Projects at the Frieze Art Fair, Creative Director of Tar magazine, Co-Founder and Producer of Destricted, and Global Curator for Nike.  He has been responsible for product collaborations with many globally acclaimed artists including George Condo, Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murikami and many others.


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