Room 4

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The Glamour Factory

This room traces the influence of American art and visual culture on the glam sensibility by examining the phenomenon of camp, which emerged from the New York underground art scene of the 1960s. Embracing all fields of artistic production, camp played on gender definitions, engaging with absurd or exaggerated ideals of femininity or masculinity.

The film-maker and performance artist Jack Smith appropriated the glamour archive of Hollywood, creating films and performances starring drag queens and transvestites that were at once celebratory homage and arch critique. The camp theatrical genre The Theatre of the Ridiculous, characterised by surreal stage settings and cross-gender casting, influenced performance artists and proto-glam stars alike.

Andy Warhol’s unwavering interest in glamour, style and fashion made him a central figure for glam. Warhol’s commercial interests and his drive to develop a profile beyond the art world had, by the mid-1960s, led to the saturation of popular culture with his ideas and visual iconography. His notion of narcissistic display and performance as a perpetual modus operandi, exemplified by the mirror effect of the silvered walls of his studio The Factory, constitutes a conceptual foundation for glam. The decadent cool of The Velvet Underground, The Factory’s house band, provided a central reference point for both Roxy Music and David Bowie, while Bowie’s invention of multiple fictional personae through the 1970s might be understood as Warholian.