In this episode of our new radio series collaboration with BBC, The Way I See It, John Waters looks at a painting by one of his favorite artists: Lee Lozano’s Untitled (1963)—an eight-foot painting of a hammer. As a filmmaker, Waters takes on taboo subjects and builds worlds in which there is no normal. The results are often outrageous, self-consciously transgressive, and oozing with camp. Both Hairspray (1988) and Pink Flamingos (1972) have become cult classics. And art plays a big role in his life: Waters is also a writer, actor, comedian, photographer, and collector. As Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film at MoMA puts it, “John is the rarest of birds; monumentally smart and unimpeachably irreverent. He is, quite simply, our chosen Pope.”
Find the complete radio program hosted by art critic and broadcaster Alastair Sooke on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts.
Waters discusses this powerful, emotional, threatening, and phallic work with Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture. This is not the only tool Lozano painted: “She looked at every tool sexually, and with anger, and politically, and artistically,” Waters notes, “every possible way you can look at a hammer.” As he puts it, “It’s a very butch painting by a heterosexual woman. I love angry women, and women who hate men. And I hate men who hate women so Lee Lozano felt like a really good artist for me to pick.”
This is one of many conversations about art in The Way I See It, a 30-episode radio series from MoMA and BBC offering fresh perspectives on artworks in our new galleries. Thirty extraordinary creative thinkers choose a work that they love and share their way of seeing art and our world. Find the first 15 episodes of The Way I See It on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts. The second half of the series continues on Monday, December 2.
Photo by Greg Gorman
Major support for the program is provided by The Museum of Modern Art’s Research and Scholarly Publications endowment established through the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Edward John Noble Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Perry R. Bass, and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Challenge Grant Program.