Critics’ Picks

Margaret Harrison, Take One Lemon, 1971, lithograph on paper, 25 x 20".


Margaret Harrison

Keithstrasse 12
September 13–November 1

Margaret Harrison’s latest exhibition is an anachronistic experience. Walk into the gallery’s back room and peek at the septuagenarian British feminist artist’s naughty lithographs, displayed in suggestively half-open drawers. There are two from 1971, the year Harrison’s first-ever gallery exhibition was shut down by the London police—a drawing of a corseted but otherwise nude Hugh Hefner as one of his own bunnies was apparently just too much. The lithographs’ preoccupations are braless merry widows, scarlet nipples, and food: An engorged lemon being squeezed by a pinup spurts glistening droplets in Take One Lemon, 1971, while in Good Enough To Eat, 1971, a fleshy bombshell stands in for the meat in a British rail sandwich, her upturned palms submissively curled atop a slice of a hard-boiled egg.

These are startling pictures. They are rendered with the skill of a young artist trained in painting and drawing in 1960s London, as two sensational acrylics of spineless sea urchins on canvas, Echinodermata I and II, from 1966 attest. There is malice in Beautiful Ugly Telephone, 2004, which gets at the banal entrapment of corporate life. The work is part of a series called “Beautiful Ugly Violence,” which presents paintings of ordinary objects—a kettle, scissors—that have been used as weapons against women. In the bruise-colored Marilyn Is Dead! (blue-grey), 1994, the icon of female sexuality evokes a Victorian memento mori picture of a dead child, her signature snub nose and full lips recalling the girl’s life cut short.