Every year, usually in the VIP-est hours of an art fair’s opening, you can find Leonardo DiCaprio, newsboy cap pulled low, flitting about the booths in Miami, London, or on Randall’s Island at Frieze New York. Catch me if you can, he seems to be telling us onlookers. This week, though, there is a much more conspicuous Leo at large: On Thursday, he was spotted brazenly reading the Financial Times well past the preview hours at Frieze New York’s opening, and was even seen gesticulating wildly and hollering in what could have been a Quaalude-induced fit.
And yet, these Leos were, in addition to a third wandering the fairgrounds, culled from endless potentials with a casting agency. They were not in fact the serial modelizer but the brainchildren of Dora Budor, the Croatia-born, Brooklyn-based artist who, for her Frieze Projects commission, decided to re-incept, if you will, some of Leo’s most beloved roles.
Budor took her cue from a 1921 performance by Luigi Pirandello whose cast of characters was so confusing that the audience took to yelling “MANICOMIO!”, or Italian for “madhouse,” which is also the title of Budor’s piece. Adding to the general confusion in the fair was the presence of Leo’s Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street, who could just be any double-breasted collector or dealer berating the person on the other end of his phone.
As Budor pointed out to me, only certain art works within the commercial setting of a fair, and Frank Abagnale, Jr., Leo’s chameleonic con man from Catch Me If You Can, is at first glance almost equally unnoticeable, zooming around so fast it’s hard to tell that’s he’s not wearing pinstripes but, instead, a pilot’s uniform. He’s certainly moving along more quickly than Hugh Glass, the hulking, bear-like figure from The Revenant, who can be spotted trudging through the rows of booths with a walking stick for support, removing his layers of fur patches and accumulating more dirt over the course of the day in correspondence with his timeline in the movie.
Budor, who spoke from Frieze this morning, both declined to give quotes and to comment on whether her work has ended up in DiCaprio’s collection, or if she’s ever even interacted with him, outside of a sighting two years ago at Frieze London. Clearly, though, she was more interested in the actor than the celebrity. Wouldn’t it have been more fun to see CitiBike Leo, or Rain Forest Leo, or Trump Tower Leo, or Leo With Models Trailing In His Wake?
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