Trending Tattoos

What's with all the tattoo shows lately? The Natural History Museum of L.A. County's "Tattoo" (through Apr. 15, 2018) includes a working tattoo parlor. The Long Beach Museum of Art has "Cartomancy: The Seni Horoscope Re-Imagined" by tattoo artist Shay Bredimus (through May 13, 2018). The Museum of Latin American Art is organizing "MOLAA Ink" (Aug. 25, 2018–Jan. 21, 2019).

L.A. museums are as responsible as any for this reappraisal. MOCA's 2011 "Art in the Streets" featured the estimable Mister Cartoon, the Michelangelo of prison fine-line. The Japanese American National Museum's 2014 show, "Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World" has travelled extensively and is still being shopped out.

The unresolved issue is what objects a tattoo exhibition should display. NHMLA takes a multimedia approach, with antique tattooing equipment, photographs of historic and contemporary tattoos, and silicone mannequins tattooed in contemporary designs. Is tattoo a medium or an esthetic, or something else? It seems museums are still working on that.

At top, a flash sheet by Eric Jones.


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mj said…
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