Past Exhibitions

John Waters: Indecent Exposure

John Waters burst into American consciousness in 1972 with the riotously transgressive film Pink Flamingos. In the decades since, his career as a filmmaker has run parallel to his work as a writer, performer, and visual artist. John Waters: Indecent Exposure is the most comprehensive retrospective of Waters’s gallery-based art to date, spanning more than 160 photographs, sculptures, and works for audio and video.

Drawing from his experiences with film and his fascination with celebrity, crime, religion, and kitsch, Waters subverts mainstream expectations of visual art, enticing viewers with his astute, provocative, and wickedly funny observations about society.

Waters has been a discriminating collector of contemporary American art for several decades, and his own artwork participates in its traditions. Using shocking but affectionate humor, he disrupts the celebrity-obsessed habits of the mass media, embracing the lowbrow against the sanctified hypocrisy of “good taste.” Whether it’s sending up the cults of Jackie Kennedy, Michael Jackson, Charles Manson, or the movie stars whose images he gleefully deforms, Indecent Exposure lovingly assaults popular culture, Hollywood, and the presumed “innocence” of childhood.

Waters has had numerous solo and group exhibitions (including his first one-person museum show here in 1999), and his work is represented in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, among other institutions. Organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art, John Waters: Indecent Exposure makes its only other stop at the Wex.

Please note: this exhibition contains some mature content.
"Waters celebrates and demands that mainstream society make room for the outcasts and failures, the misfits and miscreants, the people who exist at the margins."
Line up of John Waters artworks including Lassie, a self portrait, and Justin Bieber

Installation views of John Waters: Indecent Exposure at The Baltimore Museum of Art, October 8, 2018–January 6, 2019. Photo: Mitro Hood.

Actress Divine in repose

John Waters
Divine in Ecstasy, 1992
Chromogenic print, image
10 x 13 in.
Collection of Amy and Zachary Lehman
Image courtesy of Marianne Boesky Gallery
© John Waters

A painted sign that reads Study Art (For Prestige or Spite)

John Waters
Study Art Sign (For Prestige or Spite), 2007
Acrylic and urethane on wood and aluminum
42 x 56 x 4 1/2 in.
Courtesy of Sprüth Magers Gallery
© John Waters

Collection of altered images showing child stars smoking

John Waters
Children Who Smoke, 2009
8 hand-cut chromogenic prints
Each image: 5 x 7 in.
Collection of Jack Tantleff
Image courtesy of Marianne Boesky Gallery
© John Waters

Typographical piece with different images spelling out "Contemporary Art Hates You"

John Waters
....And Your Family Too, 2009
Chromogenic print
Each image: 11 x 14 in.
Agnes Gund Collection, New York
Image courtesy of Marianne Boesky Gallery
© John Waters

Sculpture of a man pulling puppet strings on a female figure

Installation views of John Waters: Indecent Exposure at The Baltimore Museum of Art, October 8, 2018–January 6, 2019. Photo: Mitro Hood.

installation view of John Waters exhibition at the Wex

Installation views of John Waters: Indecent Exposure at The Wexner Center for the Arts.

installation view of John Waters exhibition at the Wex

Installation views of John Waters: Indecent Exposure at The Wexner Center for the Arts.

installation view of John Waters exhibition at Baltimore Museum of Art

Installation views of John Waters: Indecent Exposure at The Baltimore Museum of Art, October 8, 2018–January 6, 2019. Photo: Mitro Hood.

installation view of John Waters exhibition at Baltimore Museum of Art

Installation views of John Waters: Indecent Exposure at The Baltimore Museum of Art, October 8, 2018–January 6, 2019. Photo: Mitro Hood.

John Waters surrounded by a large group of children

John Waters
Kiddie Flamingos, 2014
Blu-ray with two-channel audio
74 mins. (loop)
The Baltimore Museum of Art
Dr. Max Stern Trust Fund, gift of the Friends of the Modern and Contemporary Art, Alice and Franklin Cooley Fund, and purchased as the gift of an anonymous donor
© John Waters

Portrait of John Waters

John Waters
Image courtesy of the artist

John Waters: Indecent Exposure is organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art and curated by Kristen Hileman, Senior Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art at The Baltimore Museum of Art. The Wexner Center for the Arts’ presentation is organized by Curator at Large Bill Horrigan.

SUPPORT FOR FREE AND LOW-COST PROGRAMS AT THE WEXNER CENTER
Huntington Bank
Cardinal Health Foundation

GENERAL OPERATING SUPPORT FOR THE WEXNER CENTER
Greater Columbus Arts Council
Ohio Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation
Nationwide Foundation

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Past Exhibitions

John Waters: Indecent Exposure