Playboy installation by Richard Phillips -- art or advertising?

The celebrity and pop-culture infused art of Richard Phillips hasn't won him many fans among serious art critics. Whatever his merits as an artist may be, it's safe to say that Phillips excels at making a media splash, which some would argue is its own creative form.


In 2011, the New York artist created a 1 1/2-minute art video featuring Lindsay Lohan emerging from a pool in Malibu. (Gagosian Gallery, which represents Phillips, released the video online around the same time the actress was entering house arrest.) 

More recently, Phillips' outdoor sculpture "Playboy Marfa" has upset some people in the Texas town for being too commercial. The artwork, commissioned from the artist by Playboy, features a large-scale neon Playboy bunny next to a classic muscle car on a slanted platform.

The Texas Department of Transportation has reportedly deemed the artwork illegal because it doesn't have a proper permit for advertising. It has given the property owner 45 days to remove the piece.

A spokesman for Playboy told the Los Angeles Times that the company sees the Phillips piece as a work of art and not an advertisement.

In an official statement, Playboy said: "We do not believe that the art installation by Richard Phillips violates any laws, rules or regulations. Our legal counsel is currently looking into this matter and we hope to resolve this issue satisfactorily and as quickly as possible."

Lineaus Lorette, a certified public accountant in Marfa, initiated the complaint against "Playboy Marfa," according to a report in the El Paso Times. "I thought it was a sign -- a corporate logo. And in Texas you can't put up signs without permits," she told the Texas newspaper.

The above video, from Playboy, shows Phillips' outdoor artwork against the Marfa sky.