David Robbins (b. 1957)

Lift (2007)

David Robbins (born 1957 in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin) is an artist and writer who was one of the first to investigate the art world's entrance into the culture industry.

For three decades, in artworks and writing David Robbins has promoted a frank, unapologetic recognition of the contemporary overlap between the art and entertainment contexts. His work Talent, eighteen "entertainer's headshots" of contemporary artists including Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Allan McCollum and others, is widely credited with announcing the age of the celebrity artist, and The Ice Cream Social (1993–2008), a multi-platform project comprising a TV pilot for the Sundance Channel, a novella, installations, ceramics, and performance, has been cited by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist as pioneering the "expanded exhibition." In its totality The Ice Cream Social represents an emphatically American version of some of the exhibition strategies employed by artists associated with relational aesthetics.

Progressively evolving away from the prevailing model of the professional contemporary artist, in his books High Entertainment (2009) and Concrete Comedy: An Alternative History of Twentieth-Century Comedy (2011) he identified and advanced other categories of imaginative endeavor. In 2000 he withdrew from active participation in the art world in order to discover how his imagination performed when not formatted to produce art, and began using the term "independent imagination" in place of "artist." Subsequently relocating to Milwaukee he aligned his work with contexts and formats historically forsaken by the avant garde, positing the suburb as a frontier for art production and creating TV commercials for galleries. His work was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial.