Wim Delvoye is a Belgian post-conceptualist artist. You don’t need to know what post-conceptualism is to follow along. Just know that he is most famous for making a machine that produces literal feces. Now he’s gained a name for himself with his herd of tatted up pigs (or, as I like to call them, a sounder of swine).
For the past 20 years, Delvoye has tattooed pigs as a central part of his practice. He started with pretty basic flash art, hearts and skulls etc., and then moved on to trendy and popular logo design. He’s got pigs with the Louis Vuitton logo needled all over. Some of his most popular pigs have the cartoon portraits of Disney Princesses inked on their back. He sold a couple of those to Chanel, who proceeded to make purses out of them.
He raises his pieces from piglets, and lets them die of natural causes. He’s gotten a lot of heat from animal rights activists, but they say all press is good press, and anyway, he’s been a vegetarian for a long time.
Like pretty much all artists, he has two aims, one noble and one base: To make money, and to bring art alive.
His theory on art: “I show the world works of art that are so alive, they have to be vaccinated…It lives, it moves, it will die. Everything is real.”
And he’s not going broke while he does it. He sells the pigs and skins for upwards of $70,000, and he says that by raising his work from piglets, they gain value (and size) as they age.
In the end, he’s really just your average sculptor-meets-farmer-meets-tattoo-artist, saying, “‘Instead of producing art I wanted to harvest it.”