Art | August 28, 2021 5:18 pm

John Oliver’s Penchant For “Weird Art” Helped Five Museums in Need

Coming soon to five cities near you

John Oliver in 2019
John Oliver performs onstage during the 13th annual Stand Up for Heroes to benefit the Bob Woodruff Foundation at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for The Bob Woodruff Foundation

Four years ago, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver debuted a recent purchase: wax figurines of no less than five U.S. presidents. It also involved a faux trailer for an Oscar-bait movie in which the likes of Laura Linney and Anna Kendrick acted opposite a wax Warren G. Harding. It was a sight to behold, and it also served as a reminder that Oliver and his show have what could be described as eclectic tastes.

The latest manifestation of this comes via Oliver’s fondness for “weird art,” specifically a trio of paintings that Oliver purchased after the start of the pandemic. This includes a portrait of Wendy Williams with a lamb chop and a stylized scene of two rats in an intimate embrace.

Late last year, Oliver asked for proposals from museums interested in displaying them in exchange for a $10,000 grant. As Hakim Bishara writes at Hyperallergic, this was designed as a means to raise awareness of cultural institutions affected by the pandemic. And now, Oliver has announced the winners — each of which will receive $10,000, along with an equal donation made to a nearby food bank.

The grant recipients? Minnesota’s Judy Garland Museum, Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Detroit’s William V. Banks Broadcast Museum and Media Center and San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. More details about each can be found here. And if this helps out some museums in need, what’s not to like?