Marilyn Manson and David Lynch
At the Galleries
This month is all about the uncanny grotesque with an unforgetable aftertaste. Marilyn Manson is surfing on still waters, unlike in the past, for his launch of “Mansinthe,” his own brand of absinthe, received mixed reviews ranging from critics who compared the drink’s odor to sewage water and described the taste as being “as bad as piss.” However, when it comes to his art, urine and the scent of sewage come in handy.
Manson claimed in a 2004 interview with i-D magazine to have begun his career as a watercolor painter in 1999 when he made five-minute concept pieces and sold them to drug dealers. On Sep. 13, 2002, he disclosed “The Golden Age of Grotesque,” which was held at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions Centre. Art in America’s Max Henry diagnosed his creations to be works of a “psychiatric patient given materials to use as therapy.” He claimed that Manson’s art would never be taken seriously in a fine-art context, writing that the value was “in his celebrity, not the work.”
Manson gave the name “Celebritarian Corporation” to his self-proclaimed art movement. He has ingeniously coined a slogan for the movement: “We will sell our shadow to those who stand within it.”
Manson also owns an art gallery, the Celebritarian Corporation Gallery of Fine Art in Los Angeles. From Apr. 2–17, 2007, his works were on show at the Space 39 Modern & Contemporary in Florida. Forty pieces from this show traveled to Germany’s Gallery Brigitte Schenk in Cologne to be publicly exhibited from Jun. 28 – Jul. 28, 2007.
Interestingly, Manson’s watercolors are very emotional and gentle in a formal way, which stands in sharp opposition to the themes and motifs they deal with, like remorse, loss, despair, self-segregation enhanced by pain, but also self discovery and revelation via agony. David Galloway, critic, states that Marilyn Manson’s interest focuses on the examination of both extremities and cavities of the human body. Specifically those particular parts which are most vulnerable and fragile, for they incessantly arouse primeval fears. These diabolic body parts, which inlude the mouth, fingertips, eyes, or genitals, are clearly depicted. The exhibition also comprises short films by filmmaker David Lynch in order to contextualize and annotate historical reference to Manson’s paintings. The titles – “Six Men Getting Sick” (1967), “The Grandmother” (1970), and “The Amputee” (1973) – suggest the theme of suffering. Lynch too is preoccupied with the reflection of pain and suffering, furthermore its aestheticization, and lastly the depiction of the deformation and transience of the human body. “Outside it was raining cats and barking dogs. Like an egg born offspring of collective humanity, in sauntered Marilyn Manson,” writes David Lynch in his introduction to Manson’s biography. For all their misleading extremism, Marilyn Manson’s achievements and motifs as a visual artist may also be embedded within the tradition and customs of early modernism “as seen through the filter of the media crazed environment of which he himself is both author and victim.”
Similarly to Andy Warhol, Manson is also an acute and ultra sensitive responsive receptor to the cultural currents and crosscurrents of our contemporary society. Manson’s art is self generated thanks to his multifaceted talent, which steers away from tradition, and is radically oblivious to conventional genre requirements. Manson takes pleasure in subversion, like all rebels and egoists.
Most of Manson’s paintings are dedicated to notorious cruel crimes that are based on images taken from police reports and from the media.
Manson has frequently drawn his themes from the sensation hungry media. His true aesthetic predecessors are also to be found among the German and Austrian Expressionists. Like Manson, Austrian artist Egon Schiele was also obsessed by Eros and death, producing works of such sexual explicitness that he was once arrested on charges of pornography. “You’re sure you will be comfortable?”, one of Manson’s studies of the corpse of Elizabeth Short bears an incredible resemblance to the poise and positioning of of the model in Schiele’s “Liegender weiblicher Akt mit gespreizten Beinen” (“Reclining Female Nude with Spread Legs,” 1914).
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