AboutThe exhibition focuses on five photographs from Molinier’s celebrated cent photographies erotiques series, first shown at the Centre Pompidou for the artist’s 1979 posthumous retrospective. Dating from 1960 to 1974, these carefully staged erotic self-portraits picture a suggestively posed Molinier in an
Cathie Pilkington, Strata, 2019 Pierre Molinier, Autoportrait, c. 1960
array of fetishist ensembles. In several instances, disembodied doll limbs feature, stood apart, or entangled with Molinier’s own body. The artist’s own face, frequently overlaid with a doll mask, further adds to the disquieting sense of the uncanny.
Karsten Schubert London has invited British sculptor and Royal Academician, Cathie Pilkington (b. 1968), to create a site-specific installation in response to Molinier’s photographs within the Soho space. Pilkington is renowned for her use of doll and mannequin forms meticulously crafted in a variety of materials and incorporating ready-made elements. Informed by Surrealism, she utilises quotidian objects to unsettle and provoke, disrupting and recontextualising the everyday as a means of probing preconceived ideas around sexuality, gender and personhood. Pilkington’s installation includes an assortment of miscellaneous props and materials; blankets, mirrors and studio furniture, and a rare example of American artist Morton Bartlett’s (1909–1992) lifelike plaster dolls, alongside Molinier’s erotic images.
While perhaps less shocking to the contemporary viewer, Molinier’s work was groundbreaking in addressing taboo subjects at a time when to do so was deemed depraved. Famously dubbed, 'the magician of erotic art' by André Breton, Molinier is routinely cited as an influence for subsequent generations of artists such as Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe and Ron Athey. When placed in dialogue with Pilkington’s multivalent installation, the contemporary resonance of Molinier’s oeuvre becomes ever more apparent.
The Covering: Cathie Pilkington and Pierre Molinier is accompanied by a catalogue published by Ridinghouse and featuring a new essay by art historian Neil Walton.