April 4, 2003 - Conner Contemporary Art - Mark Bennett at Conner Contemporary Art
April 4, 2003

Mark Bennett at Conner Contemporary Art

Mark Bennett
At the Picture Show
04/04/2003 - 10/05/2003

Conner Contemporary Art
1730 Connecticut Ave., NW – 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20009 
t : 202-588-8750


Conner Contemporary Art is delighted to announce “At the Picture Show”, an exhibition of new drawings by Los Angeles artist Mark Bennett. In this exciting series Bennett presents architectural drawings of movie homes from big-screen hits like “Psycho”, “In Cold Blood”, and “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane”. Along with these classics Bennett also explores his fascination with the sets of lesser known B-movies, such as “Kitten with a Whip”.

Working in India ink on graph paper, Bennett applies the signature style he introduced in his blue-print drafts of TV sitcom homes – exhibited here and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2000, and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1997 – featuring “The Honeymooners” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” among other small-screen favorites.

Bennett has now turned his attention to cinematic dramas in which, he explains, “The houses are not merely backdrops but are just as important as the characters”. The artist’s central concept for “At the Picture Show” is that, in each of these movies, the specific architectural setting actually dictates aspects of the plot and structures the actions played out within its spaces. For example, the landscaped yard of Mrs. Claire Marrable provided the perfect place to dispose of the bodies of her murdered housekeepers in “Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice.”

Creating installations, like the “Valley of the Dolls” exhibition here in 2000, initially sparked Bennett’s interest in vintage movie sets. This interest intensified early in 2003 as he curated “The Art of Luxury: Mark Bennett presents Nine Hollywood Homes by John Elgin Woolf” at the University Art Museum: University of California, Santa Barbara. He explains, “Working closely with physical props which reflect their period prompted me to consider the amazingly detailed nature of original movie sets and the incredible effort it took to create them.”

This approach is evident in Bennett’s carefully-labeled drawings of each furnished interior. Through attention to details like Hi-fi stereos and rotary dial phones Bennett situates each drama within its own niche of cultural history. His nuanced references to decor reveal psychological insights about the movies’ characters, such as the chic Lora Merredith whose home in “Imitation of Life” is appointed with a semi-circular bar and several cigarette boxes. Yet, what these drawings reflect above all, are the penetrating candor and sparkling wit of an artist with the uncanny ability to excite the collective memories of our culture.

There will be an opening reception for the artist at Conner Contemporary Art on Friday, April 4th from 6 8pm.

Mark Bennett will discuss his work in a gallery talk at Conner Contemporary Art on Saturday, April 5 at 2:30pm.

Conner Contemporary Art is located in Dupont Circle @ 1730 Connecticut Ave., NW – 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20009. Open Tues – Sat: 11am-6pm. Further information and visuals contact Leigh Conner: 202-588-8750 or via email @ info@connercontemporary.com

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