M+B is pleased to present an exhibition of Pierre Molinier's photomontages alongside a new series of drawings by Aurel Schmidt. Feelings of obsession, repetition, fetishism, pain, longing, death and the psychedelic tumble throughout the intimate works. The exhibition runs from May 3 through June 21, 2014, with an opening reception on Saturday, May 3 from 6 to 8 pm.
Both Molinier's and Schmidt's work reflect their exquisite craftsmanship, as well as practices that are thoroughly intertwined with their own lives. Precious and personal, the work is exacting, highly detailed and teeming with overt intimacy. Decorative religious and sexual symbols abound throughout the work speaking to memory, fantasy and desire. Fascinating and repulsive, grotesque and refined, the work is meant to both entice and reveal our inner desires.
Anti-bourgeois and anti-religious, Pierre Molinier (1900-1976, Agen, France) studied as a painter, turning to fetishtic eroticism in 1950. Believing the androgynous hermaphrodite to be the ideal, balanced sex, Molinier employed his own body, along with a wide range of specially made props: prosthetic limbs, stiletto heels, elaborate godemichés (the French word for dildos), black net stockings, lingerie, masks and the occasional trusted friend in performative acts of transformation. Intended to shock, the resulting photomontages depict intimate portraits of spiritual and erotic rapture that Molinier acted out in the theater of his Bordeaux boudoir. André Breton integrated Molinier into the Surrealist group with an exhibition of his paintings in Paris in 1956. That same year, Molinier began contributing to the magazine Le surrélisme, même and started taking his erotic photographs. In 1959, he exhibited at the Exposition International du Surrealism in Paris. Like his father before him, Molinier committed suicide at 76 years of age by a self-inflicted gunshot while masturbating. Considered by some as the "forgotten Surrealist," Molinier is now the subject of over a dozen monographs and exhibition catalogs, and his work has inspired artists since the 1970s, foreseeing the works of Andy Warhol, Vito Acconci, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman and others. Historians are now recognizing him as one of the first performance artists, and his work has recently been included in exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Tate Modern (London), and at the 2013 Venice Biennale, a room was devoted to his work in the main exhibition, The Encyclopedic Palace, at the Arsenale curated by Massimiliano Gioni.