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Path to Paradise panel II

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Rape Serenade

1990
22 x 33 in. (55.88 x 83.82 cm)

Judith Schaechter
American

Object Type: Glass
Medium and Support: Stained-glass panel
Credit Line: Collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody
Accession Number: EX2020.DG1.15
Location: Currently on view
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The clown, an archetypal figure Schaechter has always found more terrifying than humorous, shows up throughout her work. It is at its most nefarious in Rape Serenade. Evil clowns seeped into popular culture in the 1980s, with the news coverage of the conviction of “Killer Clown” serial murderer John Wayne Gacy and the publication of Stephen King’s popular novel about a murderous clown, It.

Schaechter’s disturbing content depicted in beautiful translucent color was meant to challenge the viewer’s expectations of stained glass. Other artists of the 1980s and 1990s were similarly interested in transgressive images that forced viewers to confront long-standing expectations for art and culture. Rape Serenade was made in the midst of the culture wars of the period, as the NEA came under fire for supporting controversial artwork, such as Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ.

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