During the 1990's, Rachel Lachowicz entered the art historical canon through her unforgettable lipstick marks. In a time when feminist art was a prolific movement, Lachowicz stood among her contemporaries in their effort to showcase the disparity within the art world. By appropriating famous male works, Lachowicz covered each piece with fire hydrant red lipstick, a unmistakable mark of stereotypical femininity and implied gender roles. Seen in one of her most famous examples, Untitled (Lipstick Urinals) after Marcel Duchamp's Surrealistic object.
Lachowicz has continued her work over the past couple of decades, exploring the breadth that the mark can take. With a full year of upcoming exhibitions, including at the Orange County Museum of Art and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Lachowicz's compelling work has experienced a evolutionary quality.
In a recent exhibition, Lay Back and Enjoy It, at the Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica, CA. Lachowicz used large scale set designs modeled after the 1973 Clint Eastwood film, High Plains Drifter.
With her recognizable mark, she covered each structure with bright, red lipstick, creating a new conversation. Two of the buildings represent a Sheriff's Station (Law and Order) and a Church (Religion and Domesticity), both symbols of historical patriarchal power. This use of appropriation and translation of the actual painting red of the town in the movie resonates within a different context for Lachowicz as she aims to use the application of lipstick to transform the space into a strong, feminine area. As the viewer is transfixed by the immersive qualities of the red lipstick; the physical, thick vibrancy before them, they are also looking at themselves in the reflective windows of the buildings, leading and including the viewer into the continued narrative of today's society.
By working with these social constructs; gendered cosmetics and architecture, a largely masculine profession all around, Lachowicz continues to question the historical aspects of feminism within art as well as the world. The use of her relative medium allows her to construct necessary discussions through pointing at the symbols within our own culture that tend to define us.
Rachel Lachowicz, Untitled (Lipstick Urinals), 1992. Courtesy of LACMA.