unica zürn, birdo and miranda july walk into a bar

When I was in Houston last month I went for a short walk to check out the Menil Collection. It’s the perfect size for me, as I often get lost at museums and exhaust myself before I’ve made it past antiquities. It’s also donation based admission, which translates into free for us budget conscious twenty somethings. (Don’t worry, I slipped a fiver in.) There’s no pressure to see everything at once, but even if you do want to roam the grounds it’s very doable in a few hours. The outside of the building is sheathed in zen clusters of bamboo and across the street is a serene park with the Rothko Chapel being only a few blocks away. I look forward to spending more time there once I move, and have fantasies of waking up super early and taking a mug of hot tea and a journal with me on a brisk stroll to the Rothko Chapel where I will sit in the gardens and meditate and be alone with my thoughts before the world can wake me. I’ll let you all know how that one turns out. My guess is anything that involves me waking up early to meditate will probably remain in the realm of fantasy.

One of the exhibits up at the Menil right now is Seeing Stars: Visionary Drawings From the Collection. Apart from the surrealist rooms (which includes a sublime room full of strange objects that either inspired surrealists or were owned by actual painters in the movement), this was my favorite gallery. There are drawings from famous artists such as Jackson Pollock and a beautiful, large Henry Darger piece but also a whole slew of artists I’ve never heard of. One of those artists is now on my worship list: Unica  Zürn. If you want to read up on this uber talented German writer, artist and bonafide schizophrenic there’s a wonderful article found here.

Here are a few images I’m going gaga over. The first one I saw at the exhibit.

Her art reminds me of three things dear to my heart.

Number 1: Birdo, circa Super Mario Brothers 2. The figure in the first image is especially reminiscent of my favorite pink, egg spewing dino.

Number 2: Fantastic Planet. Perhaps one of the strangest and best French movies ever.

Number 3: Renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch, whose triptych, the Garden of Earthly Delights remains completely and utterly unparalleled to this day.


Oh, and speaking of Birdo. I truly wish I had thought of this. It’s rather mind blowing, don’t you think?

And of course I can’t see a knitted, full body suit without immediately smiling and thinking of Miranda July making weirdly poetic contortions with shirty in her film The Future.

Which reminds me, if you ever get a chance to speak with Miranda July, do not ask her a two-part question. Trust me on this one. I have paved the awkward Q&A path for you and it is a path you’d be best to avoid.


After three ways in the rain image
when waking your counterimage: he,
the magician. Angels weave you in
the dragonbody. Rings in the way,
long in the rain I become yours.

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2 Responses to unica zürn, birdo and miranda july walk into a bar

  1. Yann says:

    Hi. How are you ?

    I just wanted to know, if by any chance you could tell me where they sell those knitted suits, like the purple one, if you know.

    Thank you in advance for your reply.


    • jen says:

      Hi Yann,

      I’m not sure! I believe that is just a normal, oversized sweater that the model has contorted herself into. If she stood up I think it would be apparent it’s just a long sweater or sweater dress. Good luck 🙂

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