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Ode to a Hippie at the Wadsworth Atheneum
Resurrected from an art storage room in the Wadsworth Atheneum, a nineteenth-century Keats Death Mask (pictured) becomes Philadelphia-based artist Virgil Marti's inspiration for his site-specific MATRIX installation Ode to a Hippie. The plaster cast of the dead poet's face reminded Marti of Thek's sculptural self-portrait effigy, the centerpiece of his most noteworthy work The Tomb, a.k.a. Death of a Hippie. Consequently, the exhibit puts the spirits of English Romantic poet John Keats and American anti-establishment artist Paul Thek side by side in an exploration of life and death. An evocation of an English garden with shrines, Ode to a Hippie presents an artificial natural setting that contains several "hippie-craft" elements like macrame, velvet fabric and stained glass. By bringing together disparate objects and subjects, entwining the Romantic Era with the Hippie Movement, Marti hopes to uncover some startling parallels.
By Ariel Brand
August 13, 2013