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John Waters Bequest

Touring The John Waters Bequest: “The 1998 John Waters movie Pecker, about a young photographer on the rise, lovingly skewers the art world. This week, it is Mr. Waters who is taking on the patron role in real life, announcing the bequest of 372 works by 125 artists, the bulk of his personal collection. The trove will go to the Baltimore Museum of Art, his hometown institution, after his death, although the works may be exhibited in 2022. The collection, stocked with photographs and works on paper, includes pieces by Thomas Demand, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Christian Marclay, Catherine Opie, Gary Simmons, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol and Christopher Wool. Mr. Waters gave me a FaceTime tour of his four-story Baltimore home, where many of the works intended for the museum are packed tightly into a fairly traditional setting with dark wood trim. On the fourth floor, Mr. Waters showed his “bomb room” — a full-room installation by Gregory Green called “Work Table #7” (1998). It’s meant to be the lair of a mad bomber, strewn with paraphernalia resembling in-progress explosive devices. “When I had my Christmas party every year, the mayor and governor used to come, and their security people had to go through the house,” Mr. Waters said. “You should’ve seen their faces when I opened the door and showed them the bomb room. They were kind of nervous.” Over the decades, he has tended to favor works that are visually witty, including many abstract pieces, as well as works that refer to the business of art or have a meta-level take on creativity itself.”

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