Celebrity mugshots receive their artistic close-up at Hollywood's ArcLight
The ultimate anti-glamour pose and every publicist's nightmare, the celebrity mugshot is our TMZ culture's shortcut to collective schadenfreude. So long as stars continue to collide with the law, we'll have these unflattering images as fodder for easy laughs and late-night talk-show chatter.
But do mugshots qualify as art? An exhibition titled "Hollywood Most Wanted + Co." contemplates some of the past few decade's most famous mugshots while seeking to place them in artistic quotation marks.
The exhibition, which opens Thursday, is taking place at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood. (What better place for a show of celebrity mugshots than a multiplex?)
Among the mugshots on view will be those of Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown.
The images are the creations of L.A. artist Rachel Schmeidler, who takes police mugshots and re-interprets them in a Warholian fashion via silk-screening techniques and digital imaging technology.
Adding a Red Scare subtext to the exhibition, the artist is also including her images of Communist figureheads Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Fidel Castro and Joseph Stalin.
In all, there will be close to 70 of the artist's portraits on display at the ArcLight Hollywood.
In a statement, the artist said, “Political pundits cast aspersions on candidates and incumbents by labeling their policies and beliefs ‘communist’ or ‘socialist.’ I have noticed many of these exchanges recently and wanted to bring them to light in a humorous way by placing them here alongside Hollywood celebrities and musicians. We are all ultimately the same before the flash of the mug shot bulb."
The exhibition is scheduled to run at the ArcLight through April 28.
Schmeidler has previously shown her work at the ArcLight in Sherman Oaks as well as a few galleries around the L.A. area. She has created mugshot artwork of Jane Fonda, Al Pacino, Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Nick Nolte and Mel Gibson, among others.
-- David Ng
Photo (top): a mugshot rendering of Charlie Sheen. Credit for all photos: Rachel Schmeidler