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Ellen Gallagher. DeLuxe. 2004-05

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Ellen Gallagher (American, born 1965)

DeLuxe

Date:
2004-05
Medium:
Portfolio of sixty photogravure, etching, aquatint, and drypoints with lithography, screenprint, embossing, tattoo-machine engraving, laser cutting, and chine collé; and additions of plasticine, paper collage, enamel, varnish, gouache, pencil, oil, polymer, watercolor, pomade, velvet, glitter, crystals, foil paper, gold leaf, toy eyeballs, and imitation ice cubes
Dimensions:
overall: 84 x 167" (213.4 x 424.2 cm); each: 13 x 10 1/2" (33 x 26.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Acquired through the generosity of The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art and The Speyer Family Foundation, Inc. with additional support from the General Print Fund
MoMA Number:
421.2004.a-hhh
Copyright:
© 2014 Ellen Gallagher and Two Palms Press

The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 253

DeLuxe consists of sixty prints involving a riot of materials, including velvet, toy ice cubes, and "googly" eyeballs, and techniques ranging from old-fashioned photogravure to recent developments in digital technology. Each print began with a magazine page selected from the artist's collection of titles geared toward African American audiences, such as Sepia, Our World, and Ebony, dating from the 1930s to the 1970s. While some of the prints are based on celebrity features or news stories, the majority are based on advertisements. Many of these suggest means for personal improvement and play on readers' desire for transformation via products such as wigs, hair pomades, acne treatments, and skin-bleaching creams. To create these works, Gallagher drew and redrew, masked out and added text, cut and pasted images, and collaged on three-dimensional elements. The resulting images are intensely personalized, transformed in form and content.

In a deft commentary on race, racism, and cultural identity, DeLuxe addresses the complex role hair plays in African and African American culture: it is a means of ornament, adornment, and personal expression; a signifier of cultural identity and difference; and a talisman for both strength and protection.

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