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Alastair Dacey: Le Masque and Kuhn’s Metaphors

The French Cultural Center/Alliance Française of Boston and Cambridge is pleased to present an exhibition inspired by Walt Kuhn from local artist Alastair Dacey. Le Masque and Kuhn’s Metaphors, which explores European Modernism and reinvention, will open with a reception on Thursday, September 20 from 7-9 p.m. The exhibition, which will run through November 10, will feature an atelier led by the artist on October 19.

Acclaimed artist Walt Kuhn played a significant role in organizing the Armory Show in 1913, the first modern art exhibit in the United States, and was known for his bold, simplifying, and emotionally intense style. His best known works depict elaborately clad showgirls, clowns, and acrobats backstage with stayed formality and solidity.

Inspired by this response to European Modernism, local artist Alastair Dacey spent two years exploring Kuhn’s unique vision and style, seeking to interpret select portraits from Kuhn’s later period. Recreating the look and feel of each piece posed questions of design, color, and form, as well as the overarching question of exactness and how literal to be in the details — right down to the feathered caps and embroidery. The driving forces behind this project? The concept of masks, identity, and mystery, as well as a search for truths both hidden and revealed by the costumes and face paint of Kuhn’s subjects.