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T+L Reports: Waters Rising in New York

For a while it seemed as if every successful contemporary artist really just wanted to direct movies—Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman, and David Salle among them. The always-perverse John Waters reversed the usual order of things, parlaying a career as a successful director, writer, and Broadway impresario into a gig as a conceptual artist and photographer in the early 90's. This month, Waters achieves his artistic apotheosis: a retrospective at downtown Manhattan's New Museum of Contemporary Art. "Change of Life" (February 7-April 15) traces Waters's trajectory from his first film, the unreleased 1964 Hag in a Black Leather Jacket, to his more recent photographs, including stills from Zapruder, a video reconstruction of the Kennedy assassination starring Divine, his cross-dressing muse, and Grace Kelly's Elbows, an appreciation of a little-noted portion of the iconic actress's anatomy. Squeamish museum-goers beware—if you're familiar with Waters primarily from the relatively subdued Hairspray and his "appearance" on The Simpsons, you'd do well to remember the artist's dictum: "I'm never disappointed when I'm shocked."
—Mark van de Walle

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