The Unvarnished Truth
7. November 2013


21. December 2013

»The Unvarnished Truth« is the first large solo exhibition of the New York artist Ruth Marten (*1949, NY) in Germany.

Following her art studies at the High School of Art & Design in New York and at Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Marten was active in the underground scene as a tattoo artist from 1973 to 1980, at a time when this form of expression was not yet legal in the U.S.  In 1977 she did tattooing at the Musée National d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris during the 10th Biennale de Paris. Since the 1980s Marten, with her outstanding drawing talent, was hired as an illustrator by well-known publishers and music labels, fashion companies and major American newspapers and, for 30 years, collaborated with Jean Paul Goude. Her ability from the start to master all possible means of illustration has included the skillful use of overpainting and collage, techniques that have decisively shaped her current freehand work. For some years now, Ruth Marten has devoted herself fully to the fine arts, work that has since been shown in institutes and museums as well as private galleries in the U.S. and England, among others: Halsey Institute, Charleston; Skidmore College, Saratoga, NY; Palo Alto Art Center, CA; Museum for Natural History, NYC; Adam Baumgold Gallery, NYC and Hosfelt Gallery, CA & NYC.

Ruth Marten’s cosmos of pictorial inventions is absolutely endless, for she helps herself to the rich treasury of western cultural history in the form of prints from the 18th and 19th century. These original graphics she mostly culls from encyclopedias in which the knowledge of the world is depicted, from zoological atlases or catalogues of furniture or home décor, where they populate the flea markets and antiquarian bookshops and where Ruth Marten forages them out. She takes them home to her studio and breathes new life into them. With the same meticulous strokes, she adds elements, collages and coloring, infusing them with a visible subconsciousness, one that is subversive, poetic, sexually charged, playful and/or pernicious. Ruth Marten’s works on paper are unique in their dexterity and hold their own in the same tradition with Max Ernst and Jan Svankmajer.

In line with the exhibition, Van der Grinten Galerie, together with the Halsey Institute for Art Charleston in Charleston, is issuing in the Cologne publishing firm, Stefan Schuelke Fine Books, the publication Ruth Marten, The Unvarnished Truth with articles written by Jean-Christophe Ammann, Mark Sloan, Rachel Guthrie and John Marchant in German and English.

Furthermore, a Collector’s Edition of 35 copies will be published (book + collage, at a price of €385.00 incl. VAT)