Favorite Exhibit 2016: Hunt Slonem Antebellum Pop!Saturday, December 31, 2016
Knowing I was going to get to see Francis Alÿs: The Fabiola Project and and how that was hung at the Menil, walking into Hunt Slonem: Antebellum Pop! at the LSU Museum of Art was a huge treat.
The exhibit was set up as different rooms of a home, with works from the 1980s to the present. From the LSU site:
...placed among magnificent antiques, elaborate wallpapers, sumptuous paint colors, and exotic textiles, all adorned with mystical images from Slonem's intense imagination. The artist's surreal patterned expressionism is magnified by its juxtaposition with the traditional furniture design of the nineteenth-century antebellum South, including signature international styles such as Gothic, Rococo, and French Revival. Slonem's homes are the inspiration for these vibrant and decadent interiors. In addition to Slonem’s art, the exhibition will include personal touches such as his top hat collection and other treasured memorabilia.
I like to show my paintings salon style and cluster-hang the smaller ones. I use antique frames. I get up really early to go to flea markets and deal with pickers. I called my last book ‘Pleasure Palaces,’ but I wanted to call it ‘A Wing and a Prayer,’ because I really live by prayer.”
In a 2011 Interview piece: Lincoln is Hunt Slonem's Marilyn
Another star of the show is Abraham Lincoln. Slonem is interested in history and memorabilia, and that fact that the "larger-than-life" Lincoln is a catchall. In Slonem's words: "On Marilyn [Monroe]'s desk, she had a picture of her mother and a picture of Lincoln. And she said, ‘I really didn't know who my father was, so it might as well be Abraham Lincoln.'" Slonem's portraits of Lincoln feel personal, and in suprising ways, he's close to the long-deceased. "I work with diviners and mystics, and one of them started channeling Lincoln in my house," says Slonem. "[Lincoln] guided me to paint certain things, like my doves: he wanted me to paint them as a symbol of freedom."
Absolutely my favorite exhibit of the year, and I can't believe this is Hunt Slonem's first major museum exhibit (part of what makes it all so luscious is that MS Rau was one of the major sponsors and lent many of their pieces).
In 2007, the NYT ran Southern Gothic: Ghosts Welcome on the artist and his Lakeside Plantation home:
But why did Mr. Slonem, who already owned a plantation house 100 miles away, need another one?
“I think we’ve already established it’s not a question of need,” he says. “It’s a question of rescue, mission, hopeless falling-in-love.”
On his relationship with psychics and the otherworldly:
He is aware that most people consider this spiritual world mumbo jumbo?
“Listen, if I cared what most people thought at this point in my life I would be in a straitjacket,” Mr. Slonem says. “I don’t care anymore. There was a time. Going through school was really hard. It’s why I don’t want to be reincarnated. I don’t want to go back to junior high school. It was horrible.”
Hunt Slonem's newest book, Birds, will be released in February and can be pre-ordered now.