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Thomas Brodhead – American, born 1968 – Shower Curtain –2014 – acrylic on canvas – 30" x 40" x 0.75" (76.2cm x 101.6cm x 1.91cm)
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When the artist was commissioned to design a shower curtain for a client suffering from ablutophobia (apparently caused by viewing Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psychowhile attending a Montessori school), he misunderstood the client’s condition, mistaking it for fear of encountering characters from Popeye the Sailor cartoons in theme parks. The resulting and hopeful design featured a lively depiction of the Dance of Death from The Seventh Seal in silhouette beneath a rendering of the Pleiades constellation, all against a colorful backdrop of swirling animal faces surmounted by a bloody valance, perhaps suggesting a death cult awaiting a mothership from a faraway star system. Sadly, the design was deemed unacceptable by his horrified client, and he very quickly despaired that his creation would find no home in anyone’s washroom.
However, when he subsequently learned that the IKEA corporation was producing a new line of Ingmar Bergman-themed bathroom accessories (with the cheeky Swedish lake name “Ikesjaure,” following their charming Scandinavian nomenclature scheme), he cast aside all personal political sensibilities: IKEA’s involvement in forced labor, forest decimation, and tax evasion were well-known and reviled by the artist, but—as we know—money conquers all, so he ran straightaway to the company’s headquarters, canvas in tow. So beguiled were the company spokesmen by the design that the artist immediately painted the IKEA logo directly onto the image and sold it to them outright, forgoing all additional profits and royalties in favor of the knowledge that his creation would grace the bathrooms of untold masses seeking modular furnishings at bargain-basement prices while filling the pocketbooks of bigwigs at the helm of yet another unscrupulous multinational corporation.