Francis Alÿs: Sign Painting Project

Texts by Juan García, Emilio Rivera, and Enrique Huerta

The Sign Painting Project came into being between 1993 and 1997 through a collaboration between Francis Alÿs and professional local sign painters (rótulistas) from Mexico City, particularly Juan García, Emilio Rivera, and Enrique Huerta. This major, extensive project was inspired by the pictorial style of billboards Alÿs encountered in his neighborhood in the Centro Histórico, and he began by painting small-scale canvases depicting people, everyday objects, and scenes of nondescript urban architecture in the flat, brightly-colored manner of those street advertisements. He then asked the rótulistas to copy and enlarge his paintings. The result of the artists’ combined labors is a set of 120 paintings that reveal variations on particular themes and that inevitably provoke questions about collaboration, authorship and originality. Today the resulting paintings are scattered throughout the world, and this book, which features 300 color plates, acts as a catalogue raisonné of that project.


Publisher: Steidl / Schaulager

Artists: Francis Alÿs

Contributors: Francis Alÿs, Juan García, Enrique Huerta, Emilio Rivera

Publication Date: 2011

Binding: Hardcover

Pages: 220

ISBN: 9783865212900

Retail: $64

Status: Out Of Print

Francis Alÿs

Francis Alÿs’s art is centered around observations of, and engagements with, everyday life. His multifaceted projects include public actions, installations, videos, paintings, and drawings; the artist himself has described his work as “a sort of discursive argument composed of episodes, metaphors, or parables.” Across these different media, Alÿs presents his distinct poetic and imaginative sensibility towards anthropological and political concerns. His actions have involved traveling the longest possible route between locations in Mexico and the United States to highlight the increasing obstacles imposed along the border; pushing a melting block of ice through city streets; commissioning sign painters to copy his paintings; filming his efforts to enter the center of a tornado; carrying a leaking can of paint along the contested Israel/Palestine border; and equipping hundreds of volunteers to move a colossal sand dune ten centimeters.

All Francis Alÿs books