Formed by an anonymous group of students at the Cooper Union in 2004, the Bruce High Quality Foundation takes its name from a fictional artist who purportedly perished in the 9/11 attacks. The provocative collective has enjoyed mock surveys in New York and Zurich (at, respectively, Susan Inglett Gallery in 2008 and Galerie Bruno Bischofberger in 2010) and now has a somewhat more genuine retrospective taking up several galleries of the Brooklyn Museum.
The exhibition is organized into five sections: “Self-Portraits,” “Public Works,” “Historical Pieces,” “Educational Works” and “Ruins.” “Self-Portraits” consists of altered statuary and media imagery with childishly painted faces. Works like a photograph of BHQF members in football gear tackling Robert Indiana’s famed sculpture, LOVE, make up “Public Works.” Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, recast with BHQF fellows as The Bachelors of Avignon, is featured as both a photo and a canvas in “Historical Pieces.” “Educational Works” includes Drawing Jesus, a photo of a college art class sketching a Christ look-alike on a cross, while Pile, an accumulation of outdated cell phones carved in wood, represents a fine example of “Ruins.”
Referencing Andy Warhol’s means of production and Joseph Beuys’s social activism, BHQF employs appropriation, collage and assemblage to create cultural mash-ups that critique the art world, the faltering economy and the reactionary political landscape, while sticking to its ironic, DIY motto: “Professional Challenges. Amateur Solutions.”—Paul Laster