Art Collecting

BMA will be showing art from filmmaker John Waters’ personal collection | Pro Club Bd

Tadashi Kawamata’s artwork “Destruction” is one of the pieces in John Waters’ personal collection that will be part of an upcoming exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Art by Tadashi Kawamata.

Coming to the Baltimore Museum of Art this fall is Coming Attractions: The John Waters Collection, an exhibition featuring artwork from filmmaker John Waters’ personal collection.

The exhibition shows around 90 works of art, selected from 372 works that the writer and filmmaker intends to leave to the museum after his death. When the donation was announced in fall 2020, museum officials promised a preview of what’s to come while Waters is still alive, and it is.

Scheduled to run from November 20, 2022 to April 16, 2023, Coming Attractions is one of two Waters-related museum exhibits opening next year, along with Pope of Trash, a career retrospective at the Academy Museum of Movies next summer in Los Angeles.

While the Los Angeles exhibit focuses on Waters’ work as a writer and filmmaker, the Baltimore exhibit offers an insider’s look at his tastes in the visual arts. Although Water’s donation to the museum includes works by himself and others, “Coming Attractions” focuses on art he has collected and displayed at his homes in Baltimore, New York City, and San Francisco.

Guest curators are photographer Catherine Opie and artist Jack Pierson, both longtime friends of Waters and represented in his collection. The exhibition is organized by Leila Grothe, the museum’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art.

Works featured include paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints by Diane Arbus; Nan Goldin; Mike Kelly; Cindy Sherman; Gary Simmons; Cy Twombly; Andy Warhol; Christopher Wool and others.

According to the museum, the selected works capture elements critical to Waters’ collection vision, including a commitment to bold artists and artworks that exude confidence, wit and humor. The exhibition also sheds light on the deep and long-lasting relationships Waters has forged with artists and how these personal engagements and connections have shaped his collection.

Waters’ legacy to the museum includes works by 125 artists and helps expand its holdings related to queer identity and freedom of expression. The exhibition begins with a group of ‘touchstone’ works depicting Waters’ relationships with people in the art and film worlds such as Brigid Berlin, Colin de Land, Cookie Mueller and Warhol.

Works by Vincent Fecteau, Fischli and Weiss, Paul Lee, Doug Padgett, George Stoll and others draw heavily on the craft to mimic everyday or familiar objects – a theme of the collection. With works by Richard Artschwager, the concept of painting goes beyond oil and canvas; Tadashi Kawamata; Tom Sachs and Richard Tuttle with different materials. Photography also plays a key role in Waters’ collection, including works by Peter Hujar; Larry Clark; Richard Prince; Karlheinz Weinberger; Arbus; Goldin; Opie and Pierson.

The collection includes a painting of Betsy, the chimpanzee who lived and painted at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore in the 1950s. Betsy’s artistic career ended when museum curator Arthur Watson introduced her to Spunky the Monkey, who one day fell on her and broke her leg, leaving her in shock and eventually leading to her death. This will be the first time the museum has displayed a work by a non-human.

Coming Attractions is presented at the museum’s Nancy Dorman and Stanley Mazaroff Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs. A publication with images of the artworks installed in Waters’ apartments will accompany the exhibition, showing how he lives with the exhibited works.

“We have both known John Waters for years as an auteur, writer, artist, art collector and friend. We are honored to have the opportunity to curate a presentation of his collection that so fully reflects his personality and imagination,” Opie and Pierson said in a statement.

“Our hope is to share with audiences another aspect of John’s creative vision by providing a glimpse of what he values: artists who are not afraid to take risks, who are not willing to compromise, and who love their art Create edge.”

Ed Gunts

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