Filthy Lucre

Bird of Prey: A Macabre Twist on James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room

Architectural Record, May 18, 2015

Painted by James McNeill Whistler in the 1870s, the Peacock Room, on display in the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is one of the most celebrated interiors in history. Decorations in teal and gold swirl over every surface—even the ceiling and shutters.

Now, in a twist worthy of The Picture of Dorian Gray, the Peacock Room has acquired a doppelganger. New York-based artist Darren Waterston has made a full-scale, warped replica of Whistler’s masterpiece, with broken shelves, smashed pottery, and gold paint pooled on the floor. This dark homage, called “Filthy Lucre,” is the heart of a larger exhibition called Peacock Room REMIX, on view through November 2016 in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Art—next door to the Freer and steps away from the room that inspired it.

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