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Artist Paul Rusconi Reveals the Story Behind His Chanel Showdown

Image via <a href="">Riot Report</a>
Image via Riot Report

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Last week, The Daily told us that LA-based artist Paul Rusconi had stockpiled all the bottles of Chanel nail polish in the city to create an installation for the brand's Robertson Boulevard store. Fast forward to Friday, when the blog reported five Rusconi paintings had gone up in front of the Beverly Hills outpost—a stunt that was executed without the knowledge or permission of Chanel. Confused? So were we, but Rusconi kindly took the time to fill us in on what really happened on that chaotic afternoon:

Racked: So what's the project really all about?
Paul Rusconi: It's actually going to be an installation piece. I hired Josh White, one of the most renowned art photographers in the world, to document what happened at Chanel that afternoon, and his photos will make up the final piece...It's looking at what is commercialism, what is fine art, and how close can one get to that line? I'm sure you've heard of Takashi Murakami's endeavour with Louis Vuitton, but I didn't want to be so clear cut. Funny enough, a lot of people thought the paintings were ads for Chanel.

R: And what's the significance of the paintings themselves?
PR: I was taking some photos of Mary-Kate Olsen and she took out her compact, looked in it, put it away, and in that instant I snapped a picture, which later became these paintings. She had no idea I was using her image.

R: Were the paintings really made from Chanel nail polish?
PR: Yes, they are made from Chanel nail polish, and I did have to buy every bottle of some colors [including the limited-edition LA Sunrise]...I must have spent thousands of dollars on it.

R: How many bottles did you use in total?
PR: I'm not give you an idea, I'm working on another series right now, and each painting takes about 140 bottles of nail polish.

R: Did the salespeople figure out that something was up when you bought so much nail polish?
PR: Yeah, I think they did. I tried to be really discrete about what i was doing, but they probably Googled me and saw my paintings and that's how it all started. I actually got a few calls from Chanel North America saying that if I set foot on the premises I'd be arrested...I think they thought I was going to take nail polish and spray graffiti on the building.

R: So what happened when you got to Beverly Hills?
PR: No one had no idea when i was coming...I didn't even tell my studio assistants. I hired a couple guys, got the van, drove to store, then unloaded the paintings and set them up outside. After about ten minutes, security guards were picking them up and trying to throw them in the garbage, but a couple people said "No, don't do that, this guy's amazing, I want the paintings". The paintings in the front of the store stayed up longer, maybe a half hour. I didn't know if i would get the paintings back, but that wasn't important to me.

R: From the photos, it looks like you had quite a crowd.
PR: Part of the piece was to make invitations that looked like they came from Chanel and put them in a public space. I put them in the Andy LeCompte salon, and it was amazing how many people came from picking up an invitation at that one single location—probably 30, 40 people. They thought it was happening in the store...early on, before i set up, someone got there early and asked where the exhibition was. As people filtered in they kind of gave it away, and eventually four cop cars showed up. I mean, I understand Chanel's a pristine place but that's what art is - expressing oneself and having a good time.
· Coco Baby: Artist Paul Rusconi Installation At Chanel [Riot Report]
· A Chanel Renegade! [Fashion Week Daily]
· Nail Polish at Dawn [Racked]

Chanel Robertson Boulevard

125 N Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048 310-278-5505 Visit Website