MOCA gets its hands on Francesco Vezzoli’s ‘Greed,’ starring Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams

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The permanent collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is getting a boost in Hollywood star power thanks to the recent inclusion of Francesco Vezzoli’s faux fragrance commercial ‘Greed,’ starring Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams, and directed by Roman Polanski.

MOCA said that the work is a gift from Vezzoli, and that it was recently ratified by museum leaders. Vezzoli is an artist who specializes in star-studded conceptual projects. No stranger to MOCA, he collaborated with the museum on its 2009 gala benefit by staging a performance with Lady Gaga.


‘Greed,’ which was shown in 2009 at the Gagosian Gallery in Rome, is a commercial for a fake brand of perfume. (The bottle, shown in close-up at the end of the spot, features a portrait of the artist in drag.) With no dialogue, the 60-second commercial stars Portman and Williams as a sapphic couple locked in a vicious cat fight over possession of the fragrance bottle.

Vezzoli’s commercial, like much of his previous work, can be enjoyed on a celebrity-gawking level, or as something a bit deeper. The commercial makes references to Louis Feuillade’s 1915 serial ‘Les Vampires’ as well as Marcel Duchamp’s 1921 ‘Belle Haleine: Eau de Voilette,’ another faux fragrance. The spot is also a showcase for Polanski’s own brand of dark, cynical humor.

MOCA used ‘Greed’ in various online promotions and features in the days leading up to the 2011 Academy Awards in February. Portman and Williams were both nominees in the lead-actress category for ‘Black Swan’ and ‘Blue Valentine,’ respectively, with Portman taking home the statuette. The museum already owns another Vezzoli work -- ‘A Love Trilogy: Self-Portrait With Marisa Berenson as Edith Piaf.’ The 1999 piece stars Berenson -- the ‘70s fashion icon and ‘Barry Lyndon’ actress -- channeling the spirit of the late French chanteuse.

Other recent MOCA acquisitions announced earlier this week include works by Edgar Arceneaux, Walead Beshty, Thomas Houseago and more.


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-- David Ng