Douglas Gordon's The VANITY of Allegory
July 16–October 9, 2005
Douglas Gordon is an inveterate storyteller. The fictions that he weaves extend outward from the objects of his art—film, video, sound installations, photographs, and text works—to encompass his own artistic persona. Self-portraiture, or, more accurately, Gordon's presentation of a mutable and enigmatic self, constitutes a significant component of his practice—a component that is largely performative and indirect. Douglas Gordon's The VANITY of Allegory, an exhibition conceived specifically for the Deutsche Guggenheim, explores the notion of the veiled self-portrait as an art-historical trope, a literary device, and a cinematic strategy, while examining the intersection of vanitas (as a meditation on the ephemeral nature of life itself) and self-representation (as an act of vanity—a ploy to remain immortal).
For Douglas Gordon's The VANITY of Allegory, the artist turned to the histories of art and film for source material. His installation—which houses its own cinema—includes loans from the Guggenheim and private collections, as well as examples of his own work and that of his peers. By combining historical and contemporary art and film, Gordon has created a visual collage that narrates issues of self-representation and double identity.
Self-Portrait as Kurt Cobain, as Andy Warhol, as Myra Hindley, as Marilyn Monroe, 1996 (detail). C-print, edition of 11, 30 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches. Photo: Robert McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery