The Starn Twins

The work that I found to be most interesting from our visit to the Linde contemporary gallery at the MFA was the Starn twins’ “Double Mona Lisa with Self Portrait” (pictured below).  The piece, a collage of prints assembled with tape, glue, and pushpins, is iconic of the Starn twin’s style.  Mike and Doug Starn, graduates of the SMFA, introduced a dirty, gritty style to photography with torn and stained prints, at a time when the rest of the photographic world was pursuing the ideal print, clean and devoid of imperfections.  Although I find this particular piece to be intriguing, what I am really interested in is their body of work, in general.  I have also included another piece of theirs, also a collage.  You can really see that even though there is something gritty and repulsive about the work, there is still something hauntingly beautiful about it at the same time.

On the topic of “what is art”, I believe Andy Warhol described it best when he said, “Art is anything you can get away with.”  I believe this is exemplary in the Starn twins’ work.  When they started out in the mid 1980’s, the photographic community had seen nothing like their tattered, grungy work.  Rather, their work was the antithesis of what the photographic community was striving for at the time, but people eventually grew to appreciate their work.

-Tommy

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