John Waters

Art, Arts centres
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John Waters exhibition
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Beverly Hills John, 2012 (detail) mocking Hollywood face lifts
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John Waters, Campaign Button, 2004
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John Waters, Study Art Sign (For Profit or Hobby), 2007 (detail) Private collection
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John Waters, Drunk, 1998 Private collection
John Waters exhibition
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John Waters, A Passion for Audrey, 2010, Private collection

The ‘Prince of Puke’ is also an accomplished artist

The name of the exhibition, ‘How Much Can You Take?’, that introduces the art of trash icon John Waters at Kunsthaus Zurich speaks for itself. The forty photographic works, sculptures and collages on display by the king of bad taste, aka ‘Prince of Puke`, are as provocative as his films.

Author of the infamous trash comedy trilogy Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living in the early seventies and Hairspray in the late eighties, John Waters broke every rule in the book of decency and developed a cult following. Along with his drag queen accomplice, Divine, and various porn stars, he also invented an outrageously colourful camp style in films.

Spooky-looking with a long face and a hallmark pencil moustache, but with a twinkle of irony in his eyes, the author, actor, performer, director John Waters is much more than a Mr. Vulgarity vying for cheap thrills. The Kunsthaus show reveals a man of erudition and political beliefs, capable of expressing both in a wide variety of forms.

We get the impression that it’s all for a lark, but Waters is a fine observer and doesn’t for a minute let us out of his grasp.

Most of the works on display form a donation made to the museum, which makes the Kunsthaus the holder of the first and most comprehensive collection of the maverick John Waters.

A live performance of the legendary This Filthy World during which Waters holds the stage for 90 minutes recounting his life and influences, including his Catholic upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland, is given once during the exhibition on 23 September.

By: Michele Laird

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