Naughty, Naughty

Katrin Heichel at Thierry Goldberg is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: Katrin Heichel paints the vanishing world of the pinup.

This is Katrin Heichel's "Guten Morgen Deutschland (Good Morning Germany)", from 2010, now in the summer show at Thierry Goldberg Gallery in New York. I'm not usually a fan of art with strong links to "traditional" (read, "illustrative") techniques, but this painting triggered some interesting thoughts. I was intrigued by a kind of parallelism between the dead genre of the girly pinup, as seen on the walls of the lunchroom depicted by Heichel, and the moribund state of traditional painting. This led me to think about the connection that has traditionally been made between paint and flesh, and especially women's flesh. It seemed strange and compelling to find a woman artist using paint to redepict images of female bodies originally conceived for male eyes. On top of that, the picture seems to express some kind of nostalgia for the vanishing space of the laddish lunchroom, and uses the nostalgic medium of paint to do the expressing. The illustrative technique of Heichel, trained in the Leipzig School, also comes pretty close to the technique used for some of the more "classy" pinups of yore. Maybe there's a kind of fond hope that the magic of paint can clean up society's gendered messes, coupled with the acknowledgment that it can't.

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