Spoiled Children of Divorce

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Liza Lou

Biographies of Modern Artists are difficult to come by.  Artists speak through their work first and if they’re successful a biographer comes along and explains the life experience from which the art springs.  I was really pleased to find that Artist Liza Lou is from a divorced family.  Lou is an American Artist who makes unbelievably beautiful sculptures which are covered in tiny beads.  She became famous for her life-size portrayal of a modern american kitchen which sparkles and gleams.  It’s a feminist commentary.  It’s also interesting that she chose to show an idealized version of something related to home.

Lou’s childhood seems very strange.  Her parents were bohemian artists living in New York until they found God and became Born Again Christians and moved to the suburbs.  Lou’s Father seems to have gone off the deep-end.  She has performed a piece about his abuse.  Lou has a sister.  I don’t know what age she was when her parents divorced.  She is said to be still close to her Mother.

Excellent article (with pictures) here.

From the article:

“Liza’s work is an imitation of life, where nothing is real,” says her Paris gallerist, Thaddaeus Ropac. “At the same time, it’s so present that it can be very frightening.” According to art historian and critic Robert Pincus-Witten, it offers a unique synthesis of issues deriving from conceptualism, Pop art and feminism. “There’s that ambiguity between the extremely luxurious and the politically terrifying,” he says.

You don’t have to dig very deeply into Lou’s personal history to find the wellsprings for her works’ conflicting themes. Her parents lived determinedly bohemian lives in Manhattan until 1965, when they attended a revival meeting and became born-again Christians. After burning all of their books and artworks, including Roy Lichtenstein paintings that were gifts from the artist, they moved to Minnesota, where they worked for various fundamentalist churches. Lou and her sister grew up watching exorcisms and speaking in tongues.

At a certain point in her teens, Lou began to question some of the tales she’d been told: Did King David really speak to her mother in the hospital after Lou was born, to explain that the baby was a blessing unto this world? (Today, although not exactly an atheist, Lou says she isn’t a believer, either: “Certain things have to line up for me in terms of logic.”) In 1989 she took a summer trip to Europe, and in the cathedrals of Florence and Venice, she experienced revelations, though they had less to do with Jesus than with mosaics and Byzantine domes. “As an American kid who grew up in the suburbs—postmodern churches with plastic chairs and all that crap—it was totally transforming to be in a place that took hundreds of years to make,” Lou says. “That blew me away.”

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