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"Self-portrait: Bad Hair Day"

Lucien Latherinse

Obsessed by cleanliness in an era that bathed infrequently, Latherinse spent most of his life in the tub. He had a particular fascination with clean hair, washing and shampooing his several times a day.

When not washing, he dabbled in painting which, as might be expected, took cleanliness as its constant theme. His "Baby Inadvertently Thrown Out with the Bathwater" caused a minor sensation when it was exhibited in his village of Ygreq, where the artist, thanks to inherited wealth, was regarded as merely peculiar. He planned a mural for the town hall to be called "The Deluge, with Suds" but it was never begun since the town hall had no running water and Latherinse felt that hiring a couple of men to sluice him down constantly while he worked would be undignified.

The work shown here represents a frequent nightmare in which Latherinse found himself rolling about in dirty, foul-smelling, sandy seawater, clutching a washcloth and a bar of soap. Finally escaping the waves, he would stagger to a beach house where he would fearfully look into the bathroom mirror to find that his hair has been entirely replaced with kelp.


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