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A great relief (excerpt)

“Folly” by Beth Katleman, 2010

A great relief (excerpt)

By Nicole Swengley
Financial Times, May, 2013

This narrative approach to wall art is employed to spectacular effect by New York-based Beth Katleman. Folly ($225,000, seventh picture) is a limited‑edition handmade installation measuring 3m by 5.5m, with more than 3,000 individual pieces mounted on a painted wall. On one level, it’s a 3D homage to toile wallpaper and, at first sight, its rococo elements and frolicking figures appear playful and benign. Look closer, though, and it’s clear that they are imbued with a darker mood. “My sculptures examine the nature of consumption and desire in our time,” says Katleman, who creates her subversive scenarios from kitsch objects and vintage toys cast in porcelain.

“Folly is a still life, yet it is animated and belongs not to the age of enlightenment or romanticism, but to the age of film and the internet,” adds Todd Merrill, who has sold the artwork to private collectors in Korea, Hong Kong and Sydney. For smaller-scale settings, there is an edition of half sizes ($125,000), with one already snapped up by New York decorator Peter Marino for Dior’s new Hong Kong flagship. “Toile de Jouy was a favourite of Dior’s and I thought this was a modern and quirky interpretation of that,” says Marino. It goes to show that sculptural wall art is, perhaps, the glamorous New Look for which we’ve all been waiting.