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Incognito, coming to Santa Monica Museum of Art, keeps art world on its toes

April 28, 2011 |  7:00 am

Can you tell the difference between a witty drawing by John Baldessari and a smart-aleck knockoff in 10 seconds? How fast can you spot a work by  Kristin Calabrese or Jennifer Steinkamp? The Santa Monica Museum of Art is at it again Saturday night with its seventh edition of Incognito, the annual museum fundraiser that feels a bit like a Japanese game show designed to mess with jaded art-world types.

You know, the types who tend to  look at wall labels and signatures before artworks.  But at this collecting event, there are no such maker/market identifiers -- just hundreds of artworks on display. You must buy a work to find out that artist’s name, testing your ability to recognize local artists, your ability to recognize what you like -- or both.

The good news: With all works sized the same, 8 by 10 inches, and priced the same, $300 each, the experience tends to feel pretty democratic, which is to say mobbed. The good-for-some news: To make the most of the fundraiser, the museum has over the years created more levels of access to this event. So those who pay a higher ticket price get the chance to “preview” the sale beforehand and enter the main event first.

Tickets this year range from $100 for event entry (or $600 for entry for two, including one voucher for an artwork and earlier entrance to the event) all the way up to $10,000, which includes six event tickets, six preview invitations, four artwork vouchers, dinner for six at a restaurant partner, a visit to the home of Lari Pittman and Roy Dowell, and — what might seem most valuable of all — parking for two cars at Bergamot Station.


Review: Alberto Burri at the Santa Monica Museum of Art

For 10 years, Elsa Longhauser has put her imprint on the Santa Monica Museum of Art

--Jori Finkel

Photo: Will Kopelman and Kevin Turen rush to see Incognito in 2010 at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Credit: Steve Cohn