Tuesday, January 18, 2011

C'est Fini!

My thesis is basically finished. I have to wait on some comments from someone, but other than that, I am done. All that is left is to print, bind, and turn in. I feel like I should be doing last minute tweaking, but that just leads to trouble. In honor of finishing, I'd like to turn back to Howard Kottler. He got a brief mention in my thesis, and in my two paragraphs devoted to him, I remember just how much I love his work. I was also happy that when I was at the Museum of Art and Design in December I was able to see pieces from his "American Supperware" series. Always clever, always biting, and always fun, I still get excited about his work. To quote Love Actually, it's true love, and true love lasts a lifetime.

This time, I share with you his American Gothic plate. Well, one of his in the series. (Fun fact: Kottler liked to number his plates 1/10, no matter what number in the edition it was, or how many he made in the set.) This one is from the Renwick's collection and is called "American Gothic: Playmate Conditioner." As with his other works, Kottler created a decal from the famous painting by Grant Wood, but with a twist on the original. Here, the man's face is blanked out, a fuzzy flesh-colored spot. The rest of the image is exactly what we would expect from the painting, but we are left to wonder what this means. Are men not important? What is the relationship between these two people that his identity is completely obscured? Who are the people in society who are considered to be "faceless"? These are questions to consider.

The title, too, is incredibly important. Kottler was as playful with his words as he was with his interpretation of ceramics and craft. I have always assumed that "Playmate Conditioner" refers to a variety of things, ranging from Playboy bunnies and "Playmates" to Kottler's own homosexuality and interest in men as playmates. A faceless man could mean a lot in either of those scenarios. I would love to go back and read more about Kottler, but now it is time to turn my attention to job hunting. Let me know if you hear of anything in the DC area!

Photo credit: American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution

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