David Robbins

American, b. 1957

About

David Robbins is an artist and writer living in Shorewood, Wisconsin. Early in his career, he worked for art and fashion icons like Andy Warhol and Diana Vreeland and he quickly became accustomed to meeting up-and-coming artists of the time, including Richard Prince, Jenny Holzer, and Keith Haring. Much of his work probes the overlap between art and entertainment.

Talent (1986), for example, questions the examines what it means to be a celebrity and what it takes to construct a public identity. And “Theme Song For An Exhibition” (2014) is a pop song that addresses the desire to make culture. According to Robbins, he uses "art institutions to produce and distribute work in popular culture forms that the popular culture isn’t producing. Wiring together art museums to create a kind of broadcast system breaks relations between high and mass art contexts, and resets them. Whatever else it is, ‘Theme Song For An Exhibition’ is contemporary American culture—American in that it’s organizing contexts horizontally instead of in the European manner, with art above and entertainment below.”

The lyrics for the song are just as catchy as anything you'll hear on the radio:

What are you waiting for—permission?

Theme song/For an exhibition Theme song/For an exhibition

You don’t need permission!

Take the culture where YOU want it to go.

Build the world you prefer Build the world you prefer

It’s your culture Take your culture where you want it to go— And take the consequences!

Take your culture where you want it to go. Take your culture where you want it to go.

Find your way. The way you do it. Your turn. Our turn. Find your friends And find your way—together!

Take the wheel (Build the world you prefer) It’s your turn It’s your turn

Take your culture where you want it to go Take your culture where you want it to go

Don’t like what you see? Don’t like what you hear? Lead yourself!

Take your culture where you want it to go Take your culture where you want it to go

(Be the thing that’s missing) Don’t ask Ms. Curator (History flows through you.) Don’t ask Mr. Broadcaster (Be the thing that’s missing.) Don’t ask Herr Professor (History flows through you.) Don’t ask Mom and Dad!

Take your culture where you want it to go. (Theme song for an exhibition) Take your culture where you want it to go. (Theme song to an exhibition …)

You don’t need permission.

Robbins's works were featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial.