76 Grand Street
Presented by Jeffrey Deitch, Nicole Klagsbrun, and The Cameron Parsons Foundation
Cameron: Cinderella of the Wastelands, an exhibition of works and artifacts from the legendary artist, opened September 8, 2015 in the former Deitch Projects space at 76 Grand Street. Cameron emerged as a key figure in the development of Los Angeles’s mid-century counterculture not only through her own work but also through her relationships with artists such as Kenneth Anger, George Herms, and Wallace Berman.
The exhibition is an expanded version of the show presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2014, Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman. Containing newly rediscovered pieces, the exhibition illuminated the esoteric figure of Cameron through her paintings, drawings, writings, and ephemera from the course of her prolific career as an artist and poet.
Born in 1922 as Marjorie Cameron in the small town of Belle Plaine, Iowa, she left home at age 18 to join the US Navy as a cartographer. It was during this time that she adopted her famous mononym and developed the careful attention to line and detail that characterizes her delicate yet potent style.
Cameron found her postwar home in Los Angeles and it was there she began to discover the surrealism and mysticism that came to define her major works. Spurred by her husband Jack Parsons, the famed rocket scientist and occultist, she began to explore various magical practices, especially the Thelemite teachings of Aleister Crowley. Parsons, believing that Cameron was the earthly incarnation of the Thelemite goddess Babalon, was eager to share his beliefs about the supernatural with her, which came to influence her for the rest of her life.
It was during this time that the two collaborated on Songs for the Witch Woman, a volume of poems by Parsons illustrated with watercolors by Cameron. This proved to be a seminal work for Cameron, as she continued the project on her own, producing an entirely new series of ink drawings after Parsons’ death in 1952.
In the 1950s, Cameron fell in with the beat culture of Los Angeles. Wallace Berman, fascinated by her artwork and mystical persona, put her on the cover of the very first issue of Semina, his artistic and literary journal. This relationship eventually led to Berman being arrested by the LA Vice Squad during an exhibition he curated at the Ferus Gallery for displaying "lewd” material – Untitled (Peyote Vision), a 1955 drawing by Cameron portraying a woman in an embrace with an alien figure. Following this controversy, Cameron would never again display her art in a commercial gallery.
During this time Cameron also starred in Kenneth Anger’s 1954 film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome with Anaïs Nin, and was the subject of a 1955 short lyrical film by Curtis Harrington entitled The Wormwood Star. With her striking looks and powerful presence, she became a muse and mentor for those around her, taking younger artists and poets under her wing.
Cameron: Cinderella of the Wastelands was produced in conjunction with the Cameron Parsons Foundation and Nicole Klagsbrun and ran from September 8 until October 17.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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