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Larry Fink's Forbidden Pictures: A Political Tableau To Greet Republican Convention Attendees

 

By Antoine du Rocher

NEW YORK, 23 August 2004
A must-see for attendees of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York is Larry Fink's The Forbidden Pictures: A Political Tableau. The twelve images on display at the powerHouse Gallery by photographer Larry Fink take a satirical look at America's current leaders, refracted through the decadent stylistic lens of Weimar Republic artists George Groz, Otto Dix, and Max Beckmann.

Originally funded by The New York Times Magazine (http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com) and set to run in The New York Times Magazine in the Fall of 2001, the photographs were shelved after the tragic events of September 11 , in an environment of media self-censorship in which Fink’s critical images of the president and his men were deemed unpublishable.

Larry Fink: Homage to George Grosz
Larry Fink: Homage to George Grosz
Photo courtesy of The powerHouse Gallery


The pictures were ultimately first exhibited at Lehigh University, where they appeared at the DuBois Gallery, after their February 2004 debut in Maginnes Hall, the academic building housing the history and political science departments, where they launched quite a controversy. The office of gallery director Ricardo Viera received nearly one thousand telephone calls and e-mails in two days, as campus conservatives publicized the exibition nationwide, fanning the controversy.

Of particular offense was a four-by-four foot photograph of a George Bush look-alike fondling a woman’s breast. “The woman has to be seen as a metaphor for our foreign policy,” Fink told The Associated Press. “I think that would be appropriate for what we were doing in our foreign policy: Groping without any good understanding of what were were doing and taking advantage of our imperious power.” Called “offensive” and “inappropriate,” this photograph outraged conservatives and republicans nationwide, including Steve Elliot of Grassfire.org, who told the Allentown Morning Call that the university should “do the decent and honorable thing and take the picture down.”

With New Yorkers ambivalent, to say the least, about the presence of the Republican Convention in their city and Mayor Michael Bloomberg even granting protestors discounts on hotel accomodations, meals and entertainment (http://www.nypost.com), the current exhibition of Fink's work at the powerHouse Gallery could hardly be better timed.

Fink issued a statement to accompany the exhibition, as a defense and explication of his work. Also accompanying the show, is a twenty-four page exhibition catalogue, The Forbidden Pictures, featuring four-colour reproductions of the photographs on display at The powerHouse Gallery, as well as newspaper articles on the Lehigh University exhibition, and a selection of email responses to that show.


The Forbidden Pictures: A Political Tableau
Through 4 September 2004
The powerHouse Gallery, New York


CLICK HERE TO READ LARRY FINK'S STATEMENT AND TO VIEW MORE FORBIDDEN PICTURES


Antoine du Rocher is a French cultural journalist and writer based in New York. He is also a member of the editorial board of Culturekiosque.com.

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