Talking with the artist who mashed up the Getty’s 18th-century French decorative arts with nudes, farm animals, and bejeweled eggs
Up on a hill in northeast Los Angeles sits the house and studio of American sculptor, photographer, and musician Marnie Weber. I visited Marnie one cool, hazy Thursday morning. With two pups by her side, she welcomed me warmly into her home, offering tea and a tour before we sat down to talk art, inspiration, and her 2001 series of #GettyInspired collages.
The accomplished visual artist has been living in L.A. for over 20 years, and she’s constantly creating; her artwork was featured on Sonic Youth’s 1998 album cover for A Thousand Leaves, and her collections can be found in museums internationally, from California to New York to Paris. When one project gets tiresome, she’s starts on another. Women and animals are a common theme in Marnie’s artwork. So are monsters, a subject she says emerged for her within the last 5 years. “Monsters were a male-dominated subject in art until very recently,” she told me. (Hear her talk more about monsters and her art in this MOCAtv short.)
Marnie’s Getty Series (6 of 11 pieces can be seen on her website) is a group of interrelated images made of collages superimposed on photographs taken in various decorative arts galleries at the Getty Museum over 15 years ago. These theatrical images are voyeuristic and have a way of bringing nature inside. They feature characters—many recurring, like eggs, naked women, and ghosts—that symbolize themes such as birth, rebirth, transformation, and sexuality. The series inspired her to create a life-size dollhouse series just a year later. Her studio and garden are also works of art, filled with fascinating books, sculptures, and objects.
When I met Marnie, she was simultaneously preparing for a solo exhibition in Geneva and wrapping up a film that took 3 years to make. She showed me various costumes used in the film, commissioned by Jack Black for an earlier project, and walked me through the movie’s storyline. Marnie’s daughter Colette—still in high school but already a talented actress and filmmaker—acts in Marnie’s latest film alongside her mother.
Marnie would like to retire in upstate New York one day and continue to create in a home that has a barn for her animals and an art studio for herself. In the meantime, she’s discovered a special spot behind the stables in Pasadena where she takes her dogs for a quiet walk nearly every morning. It would be nice to run into her again sometime.
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