Filthy Lucre, an immersive installation by painter Darren Waterston, reimagines James McNeill Whistler’s famed Peacock Room—an icon of American art—as a decadent ruin collapsing under the weight of its own creative excess. Forging a link between inventive and destructive forces, Filthy Lucre forms the centerpiece of an unprecedented exhibition that highlights the complicated tensions between art and money, ego and patronage, and acts of creative expression in the nineteenth century and today.
During the eighteen-month run of Peacock Room REMIX, a series of related installations are presented in conjunction with Filthy Lucre. First on view were Whistler’s portraits of the Leyland family and Waterston’s preparatory studies for his installation. Waterston’s studies remain on display through May 30, 2016. The Lost Symphony: Whistler and the Perfection of Art, which reconstructs a never-completed and eventually destroyed painting known as The Three Girls, opened on January 16 and remains on view through May 30, 2016. The third installation, Chinamania, features work by contemporary ceramic sculptor Walter McConnell and explores the enduring craze for Chinese blue-and-white porcelain in the West. It is on view July 9, 2016 to June 4, 2017.
Peacock Room REMIX is organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Darren Waterston’s installation Filthy Lucre, 2013–14, was created by the artist in collaboration with MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts.
I set out to recreate Whistler’s fabled Peacock Room in a state of decadent demolition—a space collapsing in on itself, heavy with its own excess and tumultuous history. I imagined it as . . . a vision of both discord and beauty, the once-extravagant interior warped, ruptured.
“Disheveled, apocalyptic” –Wall Street Journal