25/5/12 – Death and the Maiden, 2005
Mum had bought me a book from her trip to the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart (Tasmania). The book is also known as Cute & Creepy from the Florida State University of Fine Arts. Carrie Ann Baade explains that the exhibition displayed artists who have explored the ‘macabre’ and the ‘grotesque’ through monsters or other unusual subjects.
Baade also explains that the ‘grotesque’ has become a movement in itself, which refers to “humour and horror or horror and beauty”. The book features different artists, illustrators and designers who combine monsters with children, dolls or fluffy animals in order to create grotesque representations.
According to Baade, Laurie Lipton effectively portrays the grotesque through her unusual characters or cadavers. Baade argues that the skeletal figure is gently embracing the young girl, which may suggest that death isn’t such a morbid or confrontational subject.
Baade also suggests that the skeleton becomes a neutering figure and the dress dissociates death from terrorising or morbid representations. The skeleton is gently holding the young child, which may feminize the image of death. One could argue that the skeleton becomes a maternal figure who is gently stroking the child’s hair.
Baade quotes “despite all our surgeries, eye creams and pills, Death remains close, a night-time companion that cradles us anyway” (Carrie. A. Baade, 2011 p.8)
Fransisco Goya: Los Caprichos (Now One, Now Another)
Regina Marchi also argues that the Western culture have become heavily concerned with cosmetic surgery, dieting, gym memberships and exercising, which may imply society’s desire to live longer than the average life expectancy. In relation to Baade’s comment, one cold argue that society are searching for other ways to prevent ageing, although death is present within the contemporary culture. Perhaps death watching over us and smirking at our attempts to avoid what is unknown.
Baade also believes that Lipton’s work also features similarities to the works of Francisco Goya. According to Phillip Hoffer, Goya’s Los Caprichos series also features “80 prints”, which display distorted figures and unusual, grotesque characters such as witches, corpses or beasts. One could argue that Lipton’s drawings feature additional elements compared to Goya’s work such as tone and definition.
Laurie Lipton. “Bio.” Laurie Lipton, 2010 http://www.laurielipton.com/bio/. (Accessed 25/5/12)
Baade, Carrie A. “Cute & Creepy.” Florida: Florida State University of Fine Arts 2011 p.4 – 8
Marchi, Regina.M. The Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenan. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009 p. 98 -99