So I got involved with fine arts for the pettiest reason: [to say] screw you


A few years ago, Chelsea looked like a teenager going through its goth phase. Some weeks, the galleries resembled the set of a cheesy horror movie—all fangs and skulls and black makeup, with show titles like “Scream” and “Flesh and Blood.” Sue de Beer was showing videos of goth Girl Scouts, and David Altmejd was building installations around dead werewolves. And Banks Violette’s glossy black sculptures and high-contrast drawings, inspired by murder-suicides and Scandinavian black metal, were among the highest profile of them all. The 34-year-old from Ithaca played up his gloom-and-doom image, too. The guy has a giant spiderweb tattoo on his neck that, as his Adam’s apple bobs as he talks, appears to be choking him. Vanity Fair photographed him lighting a Marlboro with a blowtorch, and when a British journalist asked him if he worshipped Satan, he responded with a long-winded affirmation, citing Hegel.

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