Rosalyn Drexler’s work often explores the dark backstories of postwar media culture and gender roles through imagery taken from mass-produced printed materials. For Love and Violence (1965), she enlarged a poster from the 1963 Hollywood film, Toys in the Attic, collaged it onto canvas and then painted over it within a flattened visual field. In this image, the movie’s main character, played by Dean Martin, embraces the female lead, Yvette Mimieux, with his hands at her chin. By setting the image against a red background, above cinematic scenes of brutality, Drexler highlights the threat implied by the male character’s seemingly intimate gesture. In the artist’s words, these popular images were “hidden but present, like a disturbing memory.”
Roslyn Drexler (b. 1926) is usually associated with Pop art, but her work often explores the darker backstories and seedier manifestations of postwar media culture and gender roles. She clipped her subjects from printed materials — here, a news photograph of Marilyn Monroe fleeing the paparazzi with her bodyguard in tow — then enlarged and collaged them onto canvas, and painted over the image. In the artist’s words, her source images were “hidden but present, like a disturbing memory.” On the day that this source photograph was taken in 1956, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller were to announce their upcoming marriage; in the frenzy to cover the event, a car carrying reporters crashed, killing at least one member of the press. Drexler’s painting is an eerie evocation of the sometimes tragic results of our society’s insatiable desire for celebrity news.