new-york

“Pierced Hearts and True Love”

Drawing Center

“Pierced Hearts and True Love: A Century of Drawings for Tattoos” is a sprawling show with over a century’s worth of work from more than 80 artists, including flash (readymade tattoo images), advertising, some portraits, some actual vintage-and modern-tattoo machines, a gorgeously produced catalog with essays by three PhDs (Mark Taylor, Margo DeMello, Alan B. Govenar) and two tattooists (Don Ed Hardy, Michael McCabe). Here, there are none of the clichés endemic to shows centered on tattooing: no photos of anyone with tattoos, no portraits of anyone getting tattoos, no lame/smug captions about how great it is to have tattoos, or, conversely, how awful it is to be marginalized because you have tattoos. Instead, “Pierced Hearts and True Love” constitutes nothing less than the beginnings of a history, with all the trappings—labels, attributions, essays, artifacts.

Which is good. Because for a

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