minneapolis

Stuart Mead

Speed Boat Gallery

One of the most memorable paintings in this exhibition depicts a vaudeville strip show from the perspective of someone standing backstage right: you see the stripper from behind, and by gazing past her you can look at the audience as well. In the foreground there’s a clown with a big smile on his face trying to introduce a goofy note into what he understands is a complicated but undeniably male exercise in sexual power. His face recalls faces seen in rush hour traffic, at panel discussions, on TV: a face that’s been caught looking but doesn’t want to stop, that mirrors a soul lost somewhere between desire and guilt, that transforms shame into comic gesture before registering tragic self-denial.

For years, Stuart Mead has used the vaudeville stage as a metaphor for the structure of male visual pleasure. Like most of Mead’s dramatic templates (public-bath scenes, circus scenes, scenes of men

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the January 1993 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.