PROVIDENCE — The last 50 or so years has seen a succession of cheeky artists who twit the preciousness of art, from Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons. Alejandro Diaz belongs in that category. His show “RISD Business: Sassy Signs and Sculptures by Alejandro Diaz,” at Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art, is a laugh and a half. It’s also sometimes poignant, and occasionally problematic.
A marquee on wheels stands outside the museum entrance, topped by an arrow studded with blinking lights. It reads: “Free toaster with every new museum membership.” It’s not just art, it’s truth in advertising. As long as supplies last — and there were more than a dozen still available early this week — new members will be given a toaster signed by the artist. The offer is not the ploy of the RISD museum’s membership office, it’s part of the artist’s construct, and the dissonance between low-end retail and highbrow gimmickry is pointed and funny.