Taking the form of a beginner’s lexicon detailing the infamy of Mommie Dearest, Donald Urquhart describes his A Joan Crawford Alphabet as, “an obituary in 26 parts.” Labelled with the folly fonts of cabaret posters, Urquhart’s humorously crude drawings illustrate a life that was as famous off-screen as on, entwining Crawford’s iconic film roles with her scandalous personal life to create a portrait of a legend in collective consciousness. In her early career, Crawford became famous for her ‘rags to riches’ characters, and later for more psychologically dark roles. After her death in 1977, Crawford’s ‘true persona’ was revealed in a biography written by her daughter: a damning portrayal of egoism, alcoholism, mental illness, and child abuse. Though Urquhart’s painting looks spontaneous, his process is very labour intensive. Using the smallest brushes available to ensure total control of his lines he addresses each image with the devotion of an obsessive fan.
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