INTRODUCTION BY BORIS LURIE: Everybody hangs girlie pictures on their walls now; not only people working in shops and garages, but even families occupying expertly designed up to date modern apartments. TThe walls of a child's room is hung with pinups to educate him to meet the menace when he grows up. Why was not my play-den decorated with pinups?
For years I have been buying girlie magazines. I study them with determined thoroughness. I try to figure out what beauty I like best and why. What masterpieces! Who is my Queen Superior? But there are so many different types, and at different times I like different types; or, sometimes, I like several types all at once. It is very confusing. Dressed, undressed, lingerie or bikini, baby doll gown or nothing at all. Do you like them adolescent or mature, the spring, summer, or overripe in the fall? The sporty type or the savage type? But they overlap, interchange, reverse, and compete with each other.
To fight confusion was my supreme aim, but my instinct suggested it was necessary to create more confusion to reach this aim. I cut out hundreds of girlie photos from magazines. The studio walls were covered with them, pinned on and taped on everywhere. I sat down in front of them and observed: what was the use of painting the girls? How could I ever paint all of the girls in one painting? What was the use of painting?
Then, in the winter of 1959 I became a temporary cripple. Carrying a painting to be exhibited at the St. Marks-on-the-Bowery Church, I tripped on an ancient stone and fractured my foot. At St. Vincent's Hospital my foot was encased in plaster and I was given a pair of crutches. From then on I left my bed only to hobble to stove or icebox. And gradually the girlies from the studio began to invade my bedroom. I looked at them, I watched them. They watched me. They grew. I longed for that supreme imaginary moment, when I would crown the queen of them all. But the girlies increased and blossomed -families, tribes, nations, races. Day and night they were with me. They never left. On my crutches I hobbled from photo to photo, staring and judging and considering and muttering in my head. I tried to select, to eliminate, to discard, to crown. I did not succeed. | ► read complete introduction