New works by Aurel Schmidt are on display at M+B Gallery Los Angeles, paired alongside the work of influential artist Pierre Molinier, the "forgotten surrealist" (b. 1900, d. 1976). Each artist in their own right has been recognized for the intertwining of their practice and their personal lives.
Schmidt's illustrations are a delight for the eyes: beautifully and excruciatingly executed, the more grotesque, the better. By contrast, I found myself less drawn to the dick-cross and dentata pieces, and more interested in the straight-up flowers. Because of the artist's persona and past work, the images ooze sexuality no matter what they depict, so I was most excited by the subtler works she had in the show.
Molinier's photo montages were an interesting pairing, as both artists reflect the same exquisite craftsmanship and sexual obsession. But Molinier, an alleged necrophiliac, came off as slightly tame in comparison to Schmidt—granted, his self-portraits-as-hermaphrodite with prosthetics and dildos were more shocking in the 1960's.
Either way, the show brings together two minds exploring the dark corners, with a gap of fifty years between the works; it is worthwhile to consider this gap and how our understanding of sex and identity has changed (or stayed the same) within that time.