Fuck You: from the Liz Taylor Series (Cleopatra). Acrylic, composition leaf on canvas. 72 × 48 inches, 1984.
Vol.4, Number 2, July 2008
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KATHE BURKHART IS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY ARTIST AND WRITER. HER WORK HAS BEEN EXHIBITED INTERNATIONALLY, INCLUDING AT PS1 CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER (MOMA), THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM, WEATHERSPOON MUSEUM, AND NEUBERGER MUSEUM (USA); BANFF CENTRE FOR THE ARTS (CANADA); SMAK MUSEUM (BELGIUM); THE FLASHART MUSEUM, 1993 VENICE BIENNALE, AND GALLERIA D’ARTE MODERNA BOLOGNA (ITALY); AND THE GRONINGEN AND HELMOND MUSEUMS (NETHERLANDS). SHE HAS HAD THIRTY SOLO EXHIBITIONS, AMONG THEM AT PARTICIPANT INC., ALEXANDER GRAY ASSOCIATES, MITCHELL ALGUS GALLERY, SCHROEDER ROMERO GALLERY, FEATURE INC. (ALL IN NYC), AND AT GALERIE LUMEN TRAVO (AMSTERDAM). HER WORK APPEARED ON THE COVER OF FLASHART IN DECEMBER 1990 AND WAS THE SUBJECT OF THE FEATURE ARTICLE “BAD GIRL MADE GOOD.” BURKHART HAS RECEIVED GRANTS FROM THE MONDRIAAN FOUNDATION, CHANGE, ARTS INTERNATIONAL, ART MATTERS, AND THE AMSTERDAM FOUNDATION FOR FINE ART, DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE. SHE IS THE AUTHOR OF THREE BOOKS OF FICTION, DEUX AMES SOEURS (BETWEEN THE LINES) HACHETTE LITTERATURES, 2005; DEUX POIDS, DEUX MESURES (THE DOUBLE STANDARD) HACHETTE LITTERATURES, 2002; AND PARTICIPANT PRESS, 2005, AND FROM UNDER THE 8 BALL, LINE, 1985. SHE TEACHES ART AND CRITICAL THEORY AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, AND DIVIDES HER TIME BETWEEN NEW YORK AND AMSTERDAM. THE LIZ TAYLOR SERIES: THE FIRST TWENTY FIVE YEARS, WAS PUBLISHED BY REGENCY ARTS PRESS IN NOVEMBER 2007.
> FAMOUS FOR FIFTEEN SECONDS
In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.
-- Andy Warhol
When I first began making the Liz Taylor Series of paintings in 1982 as a graduate student at CalArts, the world was quite a different place. People loved stars then, of course (they always have and always will); but the desire to become one, for most, remained mostly in the realm of fantasy and projection. There was no celebrity culture per se – no Real World full of American Idols, Apprentices, Big Brothers, Survivors, Bachelors, Extreme Makeovers, Fear Factors, Rich Girls, Trailer Park Boys, Art Stars, or Iconoclasts – that according to the commercials will “change the way you see celebrity.” There were no websites like YouTube.com or MySpace.com where a subscriber can create his own personal fan club, or magazines like ME in which “ordinary people” are rendered as celebrities, or celebrities are rendered as ordinary people.
Today, mainstream popular culture has taken the obses-sion with celebrities to such an extreme level that I cannot possibly hope to compete with it in my artistic practice. Still, I want to trace the current obsession with celebrity as a backdrop to one long strand of my work, the Liz Taylor Series.