Adonis Garden (detail), 2007. Antique wooden bed, soil, photograph, plants, fluorescent lights, dimensions variable.

Consuming Beauty: A Conversation with Amie Dicke

Amie Dicke has been the subject of countless articles in the fashion press since she began to exhibit in her native Amsterdam. Ironically, her work is not, as many art critics argue, a traditional feminist denunciation of Western beauty standards. Instead, Dicke offers a profound, existential exploration of the self even more at odds with the ethos of fashion than any explicit rejection of the beauty industry.

The cutouts that initially brought Dicke critical attention are customized pages from fashion magazines and poster-sized ads that she spliced and carved with X-Acto knives, slicing into the models’ features and their clothes until only their hair and upper-lips remained intact within beautifully Gothic designs of slender strips of paper. Although they appear violent, these carefully and skillfully produced interventions were driven by Dicke’s sincere love for fashion.

She first responded to fashion’s lure as a young girl in Rotterdam, transforming her bedroom into a glossy cocoon with collaged pages cut from magazines covering the walls and door. Her admiration blossomed into its current creative form in 2001, during six months in New York, on a grant from the Dutch government, a year after completing her degree at the Willem de Kooning Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam. Alone and lost in an intimidatingly glitzy and driven city, she felt taunted by the unobtainable glamour and found comfort in the ubiquity of familiar faces preening in fashion advertisements. Iconic beauties became saint-like guardians to the lonely 23-year-old artist, offering a sense of stability and guidance in an otherwise alien and overwhelming city. Eventually, the works inspired by Dicke’s associations with these beautiful strangers brought her the attention and admiration of fashion insiders who wrote about and bought her art.