John Waters: Indecent Exposure

From October 7, 2018 — January 6, 2019

The first retrospective of John Waters's visual arts career in his hometown of Baltimore presents more than 160 provocative photographs, sculptures, and video and sound works. The exhibition concludes with a resource gallery of 1960s film footage presented in peep-show format and a selection of objects from Waters’s home and studio that inspire his art.

Waters’s renegade humor deployed through his works reveals the ways that mass media and celebrity embody cultural attitudes, moral codes, and shared tragedy. Exhibition highlights include a photographic installation in which Waters explores the auras and absurdities of famous films and a suite of photographs and sculpture that propose humor as a way to humanize dark moments in history from the Kennedy assassination to 9/11. Waters also appropriates and manipulates images of less-than sacred, low-brow cultural references—Elizabeth Taylor’s hairstyles, Justin Bieber’s preening poses, his own self-portraits—and pictures of individuals brought into the limelight through his films, including his counterculture muse, Divine. Other themes explored in the exhibition include the artist’s childhood and identity, a satirical consideration of the contemporary art world, and the transgressive power of images.

This exhibition is generously supported by Suzanne F. Cohen, Clair Zamoiski Segal, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Constance R. Caplan, Agnes Gund, Martha and Tad Glenn, and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York.

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Divine in Ecstasy.

John Waters. Divine in Ecstasy. 1992. Collection of Amy and Zachary Lehman. © John Waters, Courtesy Marianne Boesky Gallery