Greer Lankton

Greer Lankton

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Greer Lankton was an American artist, whose work was dedicated to creating life-like, posable dolls and figures. Greer Lankton was born Greg Lankton in Flint, Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, to a Presbyterian minister and his wife. It was during her rough childhood as a feminine boy that she began creating dolls.
"It was when I was about ten years old ... I used to make dolls out of hollyhocks and all types of flowers. Pipecleaner dolls and things like that. I started taking it seriously by the time I went to college when I was 17." Greer was often teased by peers, and on more than one occasion experienced physical harassment.

Greer changed her name and had sexual reassignment surgery at the age of 21, which was paid for by her father's church. She had previously been the subject of a local newspaper article about people transitioning to a new gender. Gender and sexuality are recurring themes in her art. Her dolls are created in the likeness of those society calls "freaks", and have often been compared to the surrealist works of Hans Bellmer
Hans Bellmer
Hans Bellmer was a German artist, best known for the life-sized pubescent female dolls he produced in the mid-1930s. Historians of art and photography also consider him a Surrealist photographer.-Biography:...

, who made surreal dolls with interchangeable limbs. She created figures that were simultaneously distressing and glamorous, as if they were both victim and perpetrator of their existence.

In 1981 Lankton was featured in the seminal "New York/New Wave" exhibition at P.S.1 in Long Island City, and began to show her work in the East Village
East Village, Manhattan
The East Village is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, lying east of Greenwich Village, south of Gramercy and Stuyvesant Town, and north of the Lower East Side...

 at Civilian Warfare. Greer was friends with photographer Nan Goldin
Nan Goldin
Nancy "Nan" Goldin is an American photographer.-Life and work:Goldin was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in the Boston, Massachusetts suburb of Lexington, to middle class Jewish parents whose ideas, moderately liberal and progressive, were put to the test when on April 12, 1965 their eldest...

, and lived in her apartment in the early 80's, often posing for her. She also played muse to photographers like David Wojnarowicz
David Wojnarowicz
David Wojnarowicz was a painter, photographer, writer, filmmaker, performance artist, and activist who was prominent in the New York City art world of the 1980s.-Biography:...

 and Peter Hujar
Peter Hujar
Peter Hujar was an American photographer known for his black and white portraits. Born in Trenton, New Jersey, United States. Hujar later moved to Manhattan to work in the magazine, advertising, and fashion industries. His subjects also consisted of farm animals and nudes...


It was in New York that she met artist Paul Monroe. They quickly became inseparable, and she moved into his apartment and started working in his shop, Einsteins. Her next solo featured a number of portrait dolls, including one of her and Paul in bed (à la Yoko and John). Greer and Paul married in 1987. Teri Toye was the bridesmaid, Nan Goldin took the wedding photos, and Greer’s father was the minister.

"Greer was one of the pioneers who blurred the line between folk art
Folk art
Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic....

 and fine art
Fine art
Fine art or the fine arts encompass art forms developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concept rather than practical application. Art is often a synonym for fine art, as employed in the term "art gallery"....

." She had spots in the prestigious Whitney Biennial
Whitney Biennial
The Whitney Biennial is a biennale exhibition of contemporary American art, typically by young and lesser known artists, on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, USA. The event began as an annual exhibition in 1932, the first biennial was in 1973...

 and the Venice Biennale, both in 1995, where her busts of Candy Darling
Candy Darling
Candy Darling was an American actress, best known as a Warhol Superstar. A male-to-female transsexual, she starred in Andy Warhol's films Flesh and Women in Revolt , and was a muse of the protopunk band The Velvet Underground.-Early life:Candy Darling was born James Lawrence Slattery in Forest...

, circus fat ladies, and dismembered heads gained her notoriety.

Besides her more emotionally charged dolls, Lankton also created commissioned portrait dolls, including Teri Toye and Diana Vreeland
Diana Vreeland
Diana Vreeland was a noted columnist and editor in the field of fashion. She worked for the fashion magazines Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.Born as Diana Dalziel, Vreeland was the eldest daughter of American socialite mother Emily Key Hoffman...

, as well as shrines to her icons, such as Candy Darling
Candy Darling
Candy Darling was an American actress, best known as a Warhol Superstar. A male-to-female transsexual, she starred in Andy Warhol's films Flesh and Women in Revolt , and was a muse of the protopunk band The Velvet Underground.-Early life:Candy Darling was born James Lawrence Slattery in Forest...

. She gained an almost cult following among East Village residents from her highly theatrical window displays she designed for Einstein's.

Lankton struggled with drug addiction and anorexia for many years, eventually becoming sick. She died on November 18, 1996 of a drug overdose just a month after completing her final and largest work titled "It's All About Me, Not You", which has become a permanent installation at the Mattress Factory
Mattress Factory
The Mattress Factory is a museum of contemporary art located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. It exhibits room-sized installation art by regional, national and international artists....

 in Pittsburgh.
Lankton had only one protégé, Jojo Baby, who continues to make dolls in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...