"Blessed Art Thou", 2006, 88' x 60", oil & acrylic on linen (click on images to enlarge)
® Kate Kretz, 2006. All laws of intellectual property apply and will be enforced.
"Blessed Art Thou" was on display in the Chelsea Galleria booth at the Art Miami Fair at the Miami Beach Convention Center, January 5-8th, 2007.
This painting addresses the celebrity worship cycle: each participant in the cycle perpetuates it while pointing a finger elsewhere. The title, “Blessed Art Thou”, is taken from a line in the Catholic prayer “Hail Mary”: “…blessed art thou among women”.
I am interested in the psychological ramifications of celebrity worship, particularly as they relate to class, self-esteem, and consumerism: I created an oppressive psychological space where the consumer is driven to reach for the tabloid, hungry for the escape provided by “information” about the celebrity's private life. Next to images of the "perfect" celebrity are ads for diet pills, aimed at the now-inadequate feeling reader.
Angelina Jolie was chosen as the subject because of her unavoidable presence in the media, the world-wide anticipation of her child's birth, her "unattainable" beauty and the good that she is doing in the world through her example, which adds another interesting layer to the complicated status that celebrities hold in our culture.
The "Virgin" and Zahara figures are loosely based on a Van Dyck Virgin painting, and the Maddox figure is borrowed from a Raphael painting. This painting utilizes imagery that has appeared in previous work, but where I formerly used this visual vocabulary to look inward, here I am responding to the world around me. I don't watch television or read tabloids, and I avoid shopping malls and box stores whenever possible: I believe that my isolation from this kind of exposure allows for a certain perspective that reveals the absurdity of this endless cycle.
The deliberately kitschy top portion of the painting is made up entirely of oil glazes in a traditional Renaissance style, while the bottom portion is acrylic underpainting with many layers of oil glazes.
(ADDENDUM: subsequent to this post, "Blessed Art Thou" was featured in over 30 documented international and 65 domestic newspapers, as well as Vanity Fair Italy and ELLE Japon. Relevant interviews were published in Foam magazine, myartspace.com, and Ilovesecondhandsmoke blog. The work was featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and Fox networks, followed by hundreds of television news sources around the world. The painting continues to be included internationally in university textbooks and classroom curricula across diverse disciplines. The complete list of documented press coverage is here, and the YouTube video of a paper I gave at The Southeastern Conference placing this painting in the context of my life/previous work, and Catholic imagery in contemporary art in general, is here. The painting is available for exhibition in safe venues, as threats have been made against both the artist and the painting. A full size study for the work was included in the 2011 exhibition "Beyond RE Production: Mothering", at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in Berlin.