In his decades-long, wide-ranging art practice, John Waters has regularly skewered film tropes and culture while also offering cutting, but loving, critiques of mass media, celebrity and insider art-world knowledge.

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

 

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Beverly Hills John, 2012
C-print
76.2 × 50.8 cm
30 × 20 inches

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John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Beverly Hills John, 2012
C-print
76.2 × 50.8 cm
30 × 20 inches

John Waters
Beverly Hills John, 2012
C-print
76.2 × 50.8 cm
30 × 20 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Beverly Hills John, 2012 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Beverly Hills John, 2012

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John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Reconstructed Lassie, 2012
C-print
76.2 × 50.8 cm
30 × 20 inches

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Details
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Reconstructed Lassie, 2012
C-print
76.2 × 50.8 cm
30 × 20 inches

John Waters
Reconstructed Lassie, 2012
C-print
76.2 × 50.8 cm
30 × 20 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Reconstructed Lassie, 2012

John Waters
Reconstructed Lassie, 2012

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Reconstructed Lassie, 2012

John Waters
Reconstructed Lassie, 2012

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In the early 1990s, Waters began shooting photographs straight from his television screen. The results were grainy, arty-looking images that he pieced together into evocative photomontages composed horizontally, creating storyboard-like sequences read from left to right. These playful acts of appropriation and juxtaposition, which transform favorite or forgotten films into what Waters calls his "little movies," create condensed stories or testimonies that offer narratives the original directors never intended.

 

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Illusion-O, 2014
6 C-prints
10.2 × 91.4 cm
4 × 36 inches

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John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Mom and Dad, 2014
3 C-prints
16.5 × 76.2 cm
6 1/2 × 30 inches

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John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Color Curtains, 2003
5 C-prints
Each image: 20.3 × 25.4 cm
Each image: 8 × 10 inches

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Details
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Illusion-O, 2014
6 C-prints
10.2 × 91.4 cm
4 × 36 inches

John Waters
Illusion-O, 2014
6 C-prints
10.2 × 91.4 cm
4 × 36 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Illusion-O, 2014 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Illusion-O, 2014

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Mom and Dad, 2014
3 C-prints
16.5 × 76.2 cm
6 1/2 × 30 inches

John Waters
Mom and Dad, 2014
3 C-prints
16.5 × 76.2 cm
6 1/2 × 30 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Mom and Dad, 2014 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Mom and Dad, 2014

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Mom and Dad, 2014

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Color Curtains, 2003
5 C-prints
Each image: 20.3 × 25.4 cm
Each image: 8 × 10 inches

John Waters
Color Curtains, 2003
5 C-prints
Each image: 20.3 × 25.4 cm
Each image: 8 × 10 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Color Curtains, 2003

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Color Curtains, 2003

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Color Curtains, 2003

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Color Curtains, 2003

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“I think every one of them up before I start putting the images together. I think of the concept, then I go find the photograph to tell the story.” – John Waters

While Waters’ process—which the artist understands as akin to writing and editing—mirrors aspects of movie making, his artworks function apart from his films in a conceptual field of their own. Some works stem from his productions: Alley Cat (2003), for example, highlights a one-second view of the actor Divine from Waters’ 1969 movie, Mondo Trasho, in a composition that focuses on persona, space and movement rather than the film’s narrative.

Other works present a montage from numerous sources, whose original contexts become less important than their function within Waters’ new constructions. In Shoulda! (2014), the faces of five famous women, including Whitney Houston, Princess Diana and Amy Winehouse, appear next to a film title exclaiming “She Shoulda Said ‘NO’!” The work evokes, with Waters’ characteristic dark humor, the destructive sides of fame and limelight, while also tapping into the public’s insatiable fascination with celebrities and their unending stream of tragedies.

 

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Alley Cat, 2003
7 c-prints
Each image: 20.3 × 25.4 cm
Each image: 8 × 10 inches

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John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Shoulda!, 2014
6 C-Prints
15.2 × 137.2 cm
6 × 54 inches

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Details
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Alley Cat, 2003
7 c-prints
Each image: 20.3 × 25.4 cm
Each image: 8 × 10 inches

John Waters
Alley Cat, 2003
7 c-prints
Each image: 20.3 × 25.4 cm
Each image: 8 × 10 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Alley Cat, 2003

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Shoulda!, 2014
6 C-Prints
15.2 × 137.2 cm
6 × 54 inches

John Waters
Shoulda!, 2014
6 C-Prints
15.2 × 137.2 cm
6 × 54 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Shoulda!, 2014 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Shoulda!, 2014

John Waters
Shoulda!, 2014

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Shoulda!, 2014

Details
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John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
21 Pasolini Pimples, 2006
21 uniquely cut C-prints
90.2 × 90.2 cm (framed)
35 1/2 × 35 1/2 inches (framed)

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John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Stolen Jean Genet, 2014
Marble, paint and brass
20.3 × 38.1 × 2.9 cm
8 × 15 × 1 1/8 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000
5 silver gelatin prints
20.3 × 127 cm
8 × 50 inches

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Several of Waters’ film influences come to the fore in works such as Swedish Film (2000), which pauses on a disturbing moment from an Ingmar Bergman classic when an old woman begins to peel her face off—serving also, perhaps, as a metaphor for the masks of theater and celebrity. In 21 Pasolini Pimples (2006), Waters creates an abstracted collage of acne spots snapped from the faces of the controversial Italian director’s youthful male protagonists. And Jean Genet, another prominent, openly gay figure in twentieth-century cultural history, is eulogized in Stolen Jean Genet (2014), which reproduces Genet’s original headstone stolen soon after it was erected (in Waters’ fantasy, by the artist himself).

Details
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
21 Pasolini Pimples, 2006
21 uniquely cut C-prints
90.2 × 90.2 cm (framed)
35 1/2 × 35 1/2 inches (framed)

John Waters
21 Pasolini Pimples, 2006
21 uniquely cut C-prints
90.2 × 90.2 cm (framed)
35 1/2 × 35 1/2 inches (framed)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
21 Pasolini Pimples, 2006 (detail)

John Waters
21 Pasolini Pimples, 2006 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
21 Pasolini Pimples, 2006 (detail)

John Waters
21 Pasolini Pimples, 2006 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Stolen Jean Genet, 2014
Marble, paint and brass
20.3 × 38.1 × 2.9 cm
8 × 15 × 1 1/8 inches

John Waters
Stolen Jean Genet, 2014
Marble, paint and brass
20.3 × 38.1 × 2.9 cm
8 × 15 × 1 1/8 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000
5 silver gelatin prints
20.3 × 127 cm
8 × 50 inches

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000
5 silver gelatin prints
20.3 × 127 cm
8 × 50 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

John Waters
Swedish Film, 2000 (detail)

Details
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Several of Waters’ film influences come to the fore in works such as Swedish Film (2000), which pauses on a disturbing moment from an Ingmar Bergman classic when an old woman begins to peel her face off—serving also, perhaps, as a metaphor for the masks of theater and celebrity. In 21 Pasolini Pimples (2006), Waters creates an abstracted collage of acne spots snapped from the faces of the controversial Italian director’s youthful male protagonists. And Jean Genet, another prominent, openly gay figure in twentieth-century cultural history, is eulogized in Stolen Jean Genet (2014), which reproduces Genet’s original headstone stolen soon after it was erected (in Waters’ fantasy, by the artist himself).

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

 

The more pedestrian, commercial realms of the movie industry also receive the artist’s treatment. Bad Director’s Chair (2006) presents a ubiquitous object on film sets that here is emblazoned with every insult a director might receive: HACK, TESTED BADLY, NO SHOT LIST and DGA REJECT. The hilariously tiny photograph Straight to Video (2002) captures another phrase once dreaded by directors and producers in the days of VHS tapes and DVDs; its minute size evokes the negligible impact of so many films that are made and quickly forgotten.

At the other end of the success spectrum, noises emanating from Sound of a Hit (2006), replay the steady “cha-ching” of money being exchanged inside a box office in Baltimore on the opening day of the Harry Potter film franchise. More than just a one-liner, this work also calls to mind avant-garde precedents in the art world, from the monochromatic abstraction of Malevich’s Black Square (1915) to Robert Morris’ storied conceptual work, Box with the Sound of Its Own Making (1961).

The world of movie memorabilia provides the backdrop for Waters’ surreal and fantastic sculpture Fellini’s 8 1/2 (2014). Based on an actual promotional item handed out in Baltimore when Fellini’s movie was released, Waters’ object enlarges it from 8 1/2 inches to 8 1/2 feet, reflecting the outsized role of the film and its long afterlife in popular culture.

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Bad Director's Chair, 2006
Canvas, wood, steel and paint with leather bound script
116.8 × 62.2 × 55.9 cm
46 × 24 1/2 × 22 inches

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John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Straight to Video, 2002
C-print
51.4 × 46.4 cm (framed)
20 1/4 × 18 1/4 inches (framed)

More Views
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Sound of a Hit, 2006
iPod and speakers with wooden box
27.3 × 57.2 × 12.1 cm
10 3/4 × 22 1/2 × 4 3/4 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

Kazimir Malevich
Black Square, 1915
Oil on linen canvas
79.5 x 79.5 cm
31 1/4 x 31 1/4 inches
© State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Details
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Bad Director's Chair, 2006
Canvas, wood, steel and paint with leather bound script
116.8 × 62.2 × 55.9 cm
46 × 24 1/2 × 22 inches

John Waters
Bad Director's Chair, 2006
Canvas, wood, steel and paint with leather bound script
116.8 × 62.2 × 55.9 cm
46 × 24 1/2 × 22 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Bad Director's Chair, 2006

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Bad Director's Chair, 2006

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Bad Director's Chair, 2006

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Straight to Video, 2002
C-print
51.4 × 46.4 cm (framed)
20 1/4 × 18 1/4 inches (framed)

John Waters
Straight to Video, 2002
C-print
51.4 × 46.4 cm (framed)
20 1/4 × 18 1/4 inches (framed)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Straight to Video, 2002

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Straight to Video, 2002

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Sound of a Hit, 2006
iPod and speakers with wooden box
27.3 × 57.2 × 12.1 cm
10 3/4 × 22 1/2 × 4 3/4 inches

John Waters
Sound of a Hit, 2006
iPod and speakers with wooden box
27.3 × 57.2 × 12.1 cm
10 3/4 × 22 1/2 × 4 3/4 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

Kazimir Malevich
Black Square, 1915
Oil on linen canvas
79.5 x 79.5 cm
31 1/4 x 31 1/4 inches
© State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Details
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1 of 4

The more pedestrian, commercial realms of the movie industry also receive the artist’s treatment. Bad Director’s Chair (2006) presents a ubiquitous object on film sets that here is emblazoned with every insult a director might receive: HACK, TESTED BADLY, NO SHOT LIST and DGA REJECT. The hilariously tiny photograph Straight to Video (2002) captures another phrase once dreaded by directors and producers in the days of VHS tapes and DVDs; its minute size evokes the negligible impact of so many films that are made and quickly forgotten.

At the other end of the success spectrum, noises emanating from Sound of a Hit (2006), replay the steady “cha-ching” of money being exchanged inside a box office in Baltimore on the opening day of the Harry Potter film franchise. More than just a one-liner, this work also calls to mind avant-garde precedents in the art world, from the monochromatic abstraction of Malevich’s Black Square (1915) to Robert Morris’ storied conceptual work, Box with the Sound of Its Own Making (1961).

The world of movie memorabilia provides the backdrop for Waters’ surreal and fantastic sculpture Fellini’s 8 1/2 (2014). Based on an actual promotional item handed out in Baltimore when Fellini’s movie was released, Waters’ object enlarges it from 8 1/2 inches to 8 1/2 feet, reflecting the outsized role of the film and its long afterlife in popular culture.

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Fellini's 8 1/2, 2014
White pine, pressed letters, wood stain and paint
26.4 × 259.1 × 26.4 cm
10 3/8 × 102 × 10 3/8 inches

More Views
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters in his studio with Fellini's 8 1/2. Courtesy Studio John Waters

Details
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Fellini's 8 1/2, 2014
White pine, pressed letters, wood stain and paint
26.4 × 259.1 × 26.4 cm
10 3/8 × 102 × 10 3/8 inches

John Waters
Fellini's 8 1/2, 2014
White pine, pressed letters, wood stain and paint
26.4 × 259.1 × 26.4 cm
10 3/8 × 102 × 10 3/8 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Fellini's 8 1/2, 2014 (detail)

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Fellini's 8 1/2, 2014

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters in his studio with Fellini's 8 1/2. Courtesy Studio John Waters

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Waters’ own image and biography weaves throughout the exhibition as well. Beverly Hills John (2012), seen above, pictures the artist as a bright-eyed victim of Hollywood’s pile-on of plastic surgery, with companion works that imagine the same fate for Lassie and Justin Bieber. Reconstructed Lassie (2012) re-imagines the beloved animal from the long-running American film and television series from the 1950s and 1960s: Gone are the animal’s gentle eyes and soft features, replaced with comically arched eyebrows and an empty stare.

 

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
La Mer, 2009
Styrofoam, urethane, plaster, latex
91.4 × 91.4 × 91.4 cm
36 × 36 × 36 inches

More Views
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
45 Days, 2003
Durst lambda digital prints
67.3 × 63.5 cm
26 1/2 × 25 inches

More Views
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Bill’s Stroller, 2014
Umbrella lightweight stroller with silkscreened linen and spiked, leather belt
99.1 × 35.6 × 66 cm
39 × 14 × 26 inches

More Views

 

A less-invasive but still costly path to taught skin is the subject of La Mer (2009), which features a many-times-enlarged container of the popular anti-aging cream—one of Waters’ guilty pleasures. The artist’s daily routine comes to light in a different manner in 45 Days (2003): Each day, Waters writes a to-do list on a filing card, prefaced with the number of days since he’s had a cigarette. As he completes a task, he crosses it off the list, adding anything unfinished to the following day’s card. Overall, the impression is of diligence and hard work, but also of an abstract field of lines akin to the swirling scrawls of Cy Twombly, an artist whose work Waters admires.

With Bill’s Stroller (2014), we see yet another side of Waters’ life. A decade ago, he adopted a fake son, Bill, a “reborn” baby who was sculpted to look completely real. This carriage, with its leather bondage straps and fabric printed with the logos of now-defunct gay bars in New York, San Francisco and LA, offers Bill an unusual seat, while also commenting on the immense shift in queer American life from an earlier “underground” existence to one that is open to family-oriented park strolls and playdates.

 

Details
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
La Mer, 2009
Styrofoam, urethane, plaster, latex
91.4 × 91.4 × 91.4 cm
36 × 36 × 36 inches

John Waters
La Mer, 2009
Styrofoam, urethane, plaster, latex
91.4 × 91.4 × 91.4 cm
36 × 36 × 36 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
La Mer, 2009

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
45 Days, 2003
Durst lambda digital prints
67.3 × 63.5 cm
26 1/2 × 25 inches

John Waters
45 Days, 2003
Durst lambda digital prints
67.3 × 63.5 cm
26 1/2 × 25 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
45 Days, 2003

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
45 Days, 2003

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
45 Days, 2003

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Bill’s Stroller, 2014
Umbrella lightweight stroller with silkscreened linen and spiked, leather belt
99.1 × 35.6 × 66 cm
39 × 14 × 26 inches

John Waters
Bill’s Stroller, 2014
Umbrella lightweight stroller with silkscreened linen and spiked, leather belt
99.1 × 35.6 × 66 cm
39 × 14 × 26 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Bill's Stroller, 2014

Details
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1 of 3

 

A less-invasive but still costly path to taught skin is the subject of La Mer (2009), which features a many-times-enlarged container of the popular anti-aging cream—one of Waters’ guilty pleasures. The artist’s daily routine comes to light in a different manner in 45 Days (2003): Each day, Waters writes a to-do list on a filing card, prefaced with the number of days since he’s had a cigarette. As he completes a task, he crosses it off the list, adding anything unfinished to the following day’s card. Overall, the impression is of diligence and hard work, but also of an abstract field of lines akin to the swirling scrawls of Cy Twombly, an artist whose work Waters admires.

With Bill’s Stroller (2014), we see yet another side of Waters’ life. A decade ago, he adopted a fake son, Bill, a “reborn” baby who was sculpted to look completely real. This carriage, with its leather bondage straps and fabric printed with the logos of now-defunct gay bars in New York, San Francisco and LA, offers Bill an unusual seat, while also commenting on the immense shift in queer American life from an earlier “underground” existence to one that is open to family-oriented park strolls and playdates.

 

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

 

Children are also the subjects of Waters’ twisted—if clean-cut—film Kiddie Flamingos (2014), which is based on his X-rated and frequently censored cult classic, Pink Flamingos (1972). We watch as a group of schoolkids performs a table read of Waters’ “remake” of his own film—now heavily redacted and self-censored to accommodate his new cast. As children 10 and younger take on the guises of Waters’ frequent cast members, including Divine and Mink Stole, precociousness and absurdity collide.

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Kiddie Flamingos, 2014
Blue-Ray with 2 channel audio, 74 min.

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

Production still from John Waters' film Pink Flamingos (1972), including actors Divine, Mary Vivian Pearce and Mink Stole

Details
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Kiddie Flamingos, 2014
Blue-Ray with 2 channel audio, 74 min.

John Waters
Kiddie Flamingos, 2014
Blue-Ray with 2 channel audio, 74 min.

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

Production still from John Waters' film Pink Flamingos (1972), including actors Divine, Mary Vivian Pearce and Mink Stole

Details
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1 of 2

Children are also the subjects of Waters’ twisted—if clean-cut—film Kiddie Flamingos (2014), which is based on his X-rated and frequently censored cult classic, Pink Flamingos (1972). We watch as a group of schoolkids performs a table read of Waters’ “remake” of his own film—now heavily redacted and self-censored to accommodate his new cast. As children 10 and younger take on the guises of Waters’ frequent cast members, including Divine and Mink Stole, precociousness and absurdity collide.

Trailer for John Waters’ Kiddie Flamingos (2015)

 

“I’m always trying to question those two businesses, art and film, in a way that’s celebrating the mistakes, and what goes wrong, and insider knowledge.” – John Waters

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
R.I.P. Mike Kelley, 2014
Hand-painted cat urn with decorative detail, clear knotty pine shelf with engraved heart detail
39.4 × 30.5 × 20.3 cm
15 1/2 × 12 × 8 inches

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John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Cancel Ansel, 2014
8 C-prints
111.8 × 71.1 cm
44 × 28 inches

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The other world within which Waters regularly circulates—the world of art, and its peculiar people, business and traditions—is another frequent subject of his pointed and poignant works. R.I.P. Mike Kelley (2014) eulogizes the celebrated artist, and friend of Waters, who died tragically in 2012 and played a crucial role in the history of contemporary art, particularly in Los Angeles. Kelley’s works cut to the core of the suburban American psyche, and several of his memorable sculptures involved cats. Waters’ homage, which gives a nod to several of Kelley’s own materials and approaches, consists of an urn for pet ashes that he sourced from a retailer and embellished with idiosyncratic additions, including an engraved heart.

Cancel Ansel (2014) riffs on the work of another art figurehead, the photographer Ansel Adams, whose meticulous photographic techniques could not be farther from Waters’ own; where Adams used large-format cameras to capture pristine scenes of nature, Waters shoots pop culture straight from his television screen. Eight of Adams’ black-and-white landscapes are stacked together, and in each, the photographer’s beautiful scenery is puckishly defiled by Waters’ digital inclusions: A giant cruise liner sits in a serene mountain lake, wind turbines dot a majestic cloud-filled landscape, and an airplane, trailing smoke, descends dangerously into a valley below. Amid a sunlit grove of redwoods, a masked figure peaks out—Waters himself—giving the audience an obscene gesture.

Details
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
R.I.P. Mike Kelley, 2014
Hand-painted cat urn with decorative detail, clear knotty pine shelf with engraved heart detail
39.4 × 30.5 × 20.3 cm
15 1/2 × 12 × 8 inches

John Waters
R.I.P. Mike Kelley, 2014
Hand-painted cat urn with decorative detail, clear knotty pine shelf with engraved heart detail
39.4 × 30.5 × 20.3 cm
15 1/2 × 12 × 8 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
R.I.P. Mike Kelley, 2014

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Cancel Ansel, 2014
8 C-prints
111.8 × 71.1 cm
44 × 28 inches

John Waters
Cancel Ansel, 2014
8 C-prints
111.8 × 71.1 cm
44 × 28 inches

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Cancel Ansel, 2014

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Cancel Ansel, 2014

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles
John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

John Waters
Cancel Ansel, 2014

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The other world within which Waters regularly circulates—the world of art, and its peculiar people, business and traditions—is another frequent subject of his pointed and poignant works. R.I.P. Mike Kelley (2014) eulogizes the celebrated artist, and friend of Waters, who died tragically in 2012 and played a crucial role in the history of contemporary art, particularly in Los Angeles. Kelley’s works cut to the core of the suburban American psyche, and several of his memorable sculptures involved cats. Waters’ homage, which gives a nod to several of Kelley’s own materials and approaches, consists of an urn for pet ashes that he sourced from a retailer and embellished with idiosyncratic additions, including an engraved heart.

Cancel Ansel (2014) riffs on the work of another art figurehead, the photographer Ansel Adams, whose meticulous photographic techniques could not be farther from Waters’ own; where Adams used large-format cameras to capture pristine scenes of nature, Waters shoots pop culture straight from his television screen. Eight of Adams’ black-and-white landscapes are stacked together, and in each, the photographer’s beautiful scenery is puckishly defiled by Waters’ digital inclusions: A giant cruise liner sits in a serene mountain lake, wind turbines dot a majestic cloud-filled landscape, and an airplane, trailing smoke, descends dangerously into a valley below. Amid a sunlit grove of redwoods, a masked figure peaks out—Waters himself—giving the audience an obscene gesture.

John Waters – Hollywood’s Greatest Hits – Los Angeles

 

Across these and other works in Hollywood’s Greatest Hits, Waters emerges as a figure with an unusual status within the spheres of film and art: at once an insider and a perpetual, consummate outsider. His precise and playful examinations lean firmly into cultural taboos, flouting aesthetic rules and established social mores in ways that remain accessible to all viewers.