“But was Playboy Marfa creative expression or crass commercialism? The debate over art versus advertising has consumed artists and critics for decades. Andy Warhol brought it to a head in 1962 with his paintings of Campbell’s soup cans; a few years later, critic Marshall McLuhan proclaimed that “art is anything you can get away with.” In the eighties artist Richard Prince got away with photographing and enlarging Marlboro’s cowboy ads; in the nineties Chinese artist Ai Weiwei got away with making ceramic vases with the Coca-Cola logo. Could Playboy get away with this?”

– Francesca Mari travels to the small town of Marfa, Texas to report about an art installation by Playboy that has residents riled up and arguing: Is it art? Or is it advertising? See more stories from Texas Monthly in the Longreads archive.


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