Guessing Game | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Guessing Game

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The time has come for the
Royal College of Art in England to put on RCA Secret, its annual contemporary art fundraiser with an anonymous twist. The school commissions 2,500 postcard-sized artworks from famous artists, as well as from its own art students. The artists create up to four offerings and put their signatures on the back of each card. Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin participate almost every year. Original works from David Hockney, Yoko Ono and Christo have also been submitted in the past. Designer Manolo Blahnik, Paul McCartney and director Mike Leigh have all contributed as well. But the big catch is that when the cards go on sale the identity of each artist is kept secret. For a week leading up to the opening, the cards are available for viewing on the RCA Web site and in person at the college. In years past, the public would stand in line for days outside the school for a chance to get a ticket to the exhibition/sale. (This year it has raffled off the first 50 admission tickets, and then it is first come, first served.) The lucky walk-in arrives to this artistic masquerade with a list of paintings, by number, that they would love to own. They can choose up to four. Each painting costs approximately $80; an incredible deal considering some of these works have been resold for thousands of dollars. After the purchase is made, the moment of truth arrives. The buyer gets to flip over each painting and finds out if their blind bet paid off.

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