Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Suddenly the Paintings Look Different

Those gays and lesbians who have supported Maureen Mullarkey with positive reviews and/ or purchases of her artwork are taking a second look now that she has been exposed in the New York Daily News for donating $1,000 in support of Proposition 8, the California Marriage Amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Queerty writes that gays and lesbians had thought she was "laughing with" them all these years and now fear she has been "laughing at" them. And they feel betrayed. Mullarkey writes that they have been sending her emails and letters using very ugly language to express their feelings. The comments to the Queerty bog post linked above use similar language.

Photos of Mullarkey's painting series Guise and Dolls is presented on her website. The paintings remind me of German Expressionism and the movie Cabaret that was set in the that time and place.

Her position was always there in her paintings for those with eyes to see it, as the blog Good As You points out. The review of one of her shows in the January 1994 Art in America recognized the subversive nature of her paintings, but did not view this subversion in a positive light:
Mullarkey seems to approach the march and its participants almost as Margaret Mead confronted her aboriginals--as explorer, educator and reporter. The figures are angular, precise, non-naturalistic and presented in what seem to be bright colors toned down. Not to her esthetic credit, however, are her doleful-eyed, elastic-bodied, Tarot-like "Gothic" renderings of, say, a naked, star-titted Button Vendor or an unpleasantly plump drag queen dripping with fake pearls and little else.
She tends to enhance the intentionally freakish by making it seem unwittingly freakish...
Mullarkey's men and women seem frozen forever in their gay misery. In the grip of the lowest forms of campiness, her long-faced revelers seem mighty dolorous. And who can blame them?

Mullarkey wrote in her piece:
However much sympathy, affection--indeed, love--I have for certain gay persons, "gay marriage" burlesques a primal institution rooted in nature. Marriage, as a unique bond between male and female, predates all politics and religious doctrines. And no one has to believe in God to see social anarchy, with children adrift in the wreckage, at the end of the same-sex marriage road.

That reminds me of her painting "The Party":

And that reminds me of the 19th century French artist Bouguereau's genre painting "The Broken Pitcher":

My art history teacher told us that this painting was more popular with visitors to the museum than any of the Impressionist paintings. She thought the museum guests had poor taste and that the painting was "sentimental". She also told us that the theme was an allegory for "lost innocence", a euphemism for child sexual abuse.

HatTip: North Plains Anglican

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