The Hairspray and Serial Mom director talks about exhibiting his provocative artwork and why he enjoys ridiculing the art world
In 1992, the Baltimore film director John Waters started making his own artwork. Not art films, but small pictures that sat quietly in his studio, just waiting to be discovered.
I just did all this artwork and I didnt tell anyone, I just did it for myself, recalls Waters over the phone from his home in Baltimore.
It wasnt until his friend, New York gallerist Colin de Land, asked to see his never-seen-before artwork that he landed his first solo exhibition. Would I have had the nerve to ask him? asks Waters. I dont know.
Now, the Pope of Trash is looking back on 25 years of making visual art for a retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art called Indecent Exposure. The exhibition features 160 artworks, where the director of Hairspray and Serial Mom shows everything but his films there are sculptures of Michael Jackson as a baby, Tina Turner as a puppet and Justin Bieber with way too much Botox.
I am always saying, Someone has to like it other than your mother, and in my case, someone has to like my art outside of Baltimore, says Waters. I am thrilled to come back here now since Ive been doing it since 1992.
Waters as a canvas-and-paint artist rather than a film director might strangely seem like a more natural fit for the 72-year-old provocateur, at least in his mind. I never wanted to be a cult film-maker because in Hollywood, that means three smart people liked it and it lost all the money it cost to make it, says Waters. Making art is just a new way for me to tell stories; its all about writing, editing and noticing minute little details that I dont think other people look at.
There is a healthy dose of art world satire which makes this exhibit as entertaining as one of his standup comedy shows. We all know contemporary art can be witty, but can it be funny? he asks. I actually think it can.
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