Mexico City

Tom Allen, Mirrors (South of Heaven), 2019, oil on canvas, 23 × 27".

Tom Allen, Mirrors (South of Heaven), 2019, oil on canvas, 23 × 27".

Tom Allen

Lulu

There’s something about artifice that gets people so up the ass of their own virtue that even nature can be accused of looking fake—especially when it’s convenient for the hegemony. So it’s no surprise, then, that flowers, nature’s most tarted-up characters, are almost pathologically feminized. Baudelaire articulated the shitty double bind between flowers and women quite poetically in the section of his seminal 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life” titled “In Praise of Cosmetics”: “Woman is quite within her rights, indeed she is even accomplishing a kind of duty, when she devotes herself to appearing magical and supernatural.” He thought of makeup as “a sublime deformation of Nature,” at once defending and reinforcing a very particular and very Western prejudice that David Batchelor would (much) later characterize as chromophobia: the othering of color through exoticization and feminization.

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 October 2019 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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