VIRGIL MARTI / MATRIX 167
August 1, 2013 – January 5, 2014
Download the MATRIX 167 Exhibition Brochure.
Philadelphia-based artist Virgil Marti united the seemingly disconnected spirits of English Romantic poet John Keats (1795–1821) and American anti-establishment artist Paul Thek (1933–88) in his MATRIX project, titled Ode to a Hippie.
An homage to Thek, Marti’s inspiration derives from the 19th century Keats Death Mask, which Marti discovered while perusing through the museum’s encyclopedic collection. The worn plaster Death Mask conjures the image of Thek’s sculptural self-portrait effigy–the centerpiece of his most significant work, The Tomb (1967), also known as Death of a Hippie.
Ode to a Hippie explored the lingering romantic notions of tragic artistic geniuses through the spirits of both Keats and Thek. With the addition of a Keats Life Mask, Marti’s site-specific installation explored life and death through an inventive evocation of an English garden with shrines, a faux natural setting embellished with “hippie-craft” elements including stained glass, macrame, airbrushed paint, and velvet fabric.
Marti regularly combines seemingly incongruous subjects and objects in elegant and witty arrangements, revealing surprising affinities.
Video: The Making of MATRIX 167
Go behind the scenes with Virgil Marti as he produces new work for Ode to a Hippie. Visit Marti’s studio and the Philadelphia-based foundry Independent Casting for a glimpse into the making of MATRIX 167.
This video is supported by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
As part of the museum’s Artist Residency program, Marti worked with students from the University of Connecticut to create a life mask inspired by the Keats Life Mask.