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Scents of Identity. Magnin store, San Francisco (2)

Margaret Harrison

This series arose from the connection that the artist established between the painting A Bar at the Folies Bergère (Édouard Manet, 1881-82), and some contemporary works portraying women who work for the viewer’s enjoyment: specifically, women working in the cosmetic sections of large department stores. These watercolour paintings denounce a visual-ideological apparatus that commodifies women, promotes the idea that women exist to serve men, and pushes servile femininity as an item of consumption. These often go unnoticed in the crush of the propagandistic, desire-creating machinery of consumer temples and their liturgies. The machinery perfectly articulates the elegance and allure of these spaces with women situated ‘behind the showcase’, the counter, in order to draw attention. The products offer the promises and miracles of modernity, and women themselves are contracted and displayed to represent the product or brand in the selling space. In these watercolours, as in Manet’s painting, the subject’s eyes are often focused outside the frame, inviting us to consider the intersection between cosmetics and commerce, cosmetics and identity.


Margaret Harrison, Scents of Identity. Magnin store, San Francisco (2)1993
Watercolour on paper
19 x 23 cm
Unique piece

4.800,00  + VAT (if applicable)