Machismo in reverse. In the early ’60’s, Lil Picard had been using women’s cosmetics as primary materials in her collages and assemblages. In 1968, she exhibited the burnt neckties at a show called “Destruction in Art.”
Critic Lucy Lippard wrote, ” “In 1967, using (perhaps not coincidentally) her husband’s real silk neckties, Picard began to burn things.” The ties were shown a few years later at Lajeski Gallery in New York with an added performance element: Picard used matches and irons to singe gallery-goers’ neckties.
Destruction————-Picard was a pioneer of destruction in art. One technique was de-materialization. In 1973, she did a series of portraits using progressively fainter xerox copies of photos. The images above are self-portraits. She also “de-materialized” critic Lucy Lippard and the central figures in the Watergate hearings,
At age 65, Picard debuted as a performance artist at the Café au Go Go. The Gallery Guide for “Lil Picard and Counterculture NY” describes the piece as “a kind of striptease from an electric bed assisted by the dancer Meredith Monk. ”
The Avant Garde Festival of 1966, held on the Staten Island Ferry, was one of many “happenings” in which Picard appeared into the ’70’s. She continued her theme of de-materialization in “White Sheets and Quiet Dots,” script by Lil Picard. Performers clad in black slowly covered their bodies with white dots—to the sounds of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
If Picard got nostalgic for the 1920’s Berlin cabaret scene of her youth—–no problem. Warhol’s Factory provided a similar ambiance, and the hip senior citizen fit right in. She hung out there, wrote for Interview magazine, and appeared in Factory films. In Warhol’s movie autobiography, she played his mother.
And she continued to collage in new ways. Here’s Picard in one of her collage ponchos, which she wore in performance in the ’70s. Like Rauschenberg, she used photos and text torn from newspapers. Two differences. Picard’s collages were made mostly from tabloids, German periodicals, and Interview, while Rauschenberg (as far as I know) didn’t wear his. Here’s a video of a poncho-clad Picard performing in “Heart on For Valentines.”
In her mid-eighties Picard did this series of collages on wood, which have a very contemporary “eye candy” feel. She died at 94, known as “the Grandma Moses of the Counterculture.” Or as the New York Times put it in the headline of her obituary:
Artist and Critic Who Was Once a Hat Designer
From collage and assemblage to installation and performance art…from the diaristic to the improvisational… from anti-war to feminist politics, she was there.
Lil Picard took part in much that moved art in New York in the post-war decades.
And she had a blast doing it.
All images are from the exhibition, “Lil Picard and Counterculture New York,” curated by Kathleen A. Edwards.
Check out the exhibition website for much more!