Chicago Artist PRATT Greer Lankton Sculptures Doll-making Gender identity Artistic legacy Identity exploration Surreal art Artistic repertoire Gender expression Downtown Manhattan art scene Identity struggles Haunting artistry Gender reassignment surgery Artistic vision Artistic community Mesmerizing dolls
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December 27, 2023
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Greer Lankton's Hauntingly Beautiful World Of Dolls

During her sadly short, but very productive and impressive career, Greer Lankton crafted a mesmerizing realm where beauty intertwined with disquiet, breathing life into hauntingly captivating dolls, photographs, and illustrations. Her artistry, a fusion of glamour and abjection, remains a testament to her bold exploration of identity, gender, and the human condition.

Lankton's artistic repertoire bore witness to a convergence of surrealism and reality. Her dolls, meticulously hand-sewn, portrayed iconic figures like Diana Vreeland and Jackie Kennedy in a manner evoking both allure and eerie grotesqueness, akin to the paintings of Otto Dix. These creations, while resurrecting glittering celebrities, carried an unsettling quality, reflecting Lankton's own struggles and offering a raw, intimate glimpse into her inner world.

Yet, beyond the morbid allure of her art, those who knew her remember a different Greer—a joyful, romantic individual brimming with laughter, as recalled by her former husband, Paul Monroe.

Born in Flint, Michigan, in 1958, she navigated a path of self-discovery amidst familial constraints, finding solace in doll-making despite her mother's disapproval of her gender expression. Her early artistic ambitions found support, leading her to win creative contests and eventually study at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, during which she underwent a gender reassignment surgery in 1979.

Lankton's sculptures from the early 1980s, often displayed in cages, depicted gaunt figures, some explicitly hermaphroditic, challenging societal notions of gender. Her dolls mirrored her struggles with anorexia and body image, capturing the haunting essence of the human form and the indignities associated with physicality.

Amid her personal battles, Lankton found solace and community in downtown Manhattan's vibrant art scene, engaging with the likes of Nan Goldin and Peter Hujar. Her works, though initially not appealing to collectors, gained recognition through exhibits and commercial-friendly photographs, enabling her to sustain herself through her art.

Tragically, Lankton lost her life in 1996 from an overdose, leaving behind a fragmented legacy. The fate of her artistic archive became a battleground, with contrasting accounts of dispossession and preservation surfacing after her passing.

Today, her art remains a haunting reflection of a complex existence—melding beauty with the grotesque, glamour with abjection—inviting viewers to confront the intricacies of identity and existence, ensuring Greer Lankton's enigmatic legacy endures, despite the diverse tales that surround her life.


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