On View

Molly Vaughan’s After Boucher Brings Rococo to the Frye

The artist and trans activist’s work queers the drawings of French painter François Boucher.

By Sophie Grossman October 21, 2022 Published in the Winter 2022 issue of Seattle Met

A self-portrait by Molly Vaughan.

As told to Sophie Grossman

“The narrative [of After Boucher] was established around this notion I’ve carried with me, since I was five or six, that I was a monster because I didn’t understand who I was. Growing up without ever knowing anything about being trans was a complete vacuum of self-awareness. And so the only word I had to describe myself as a kid was “monster.” And what’s interesting is that I’ve actually talked with other trans folk of my generation, and they also used that word for themselves…so I created a narrative around these minotaurs and harpies and self-portraits…. In terms of my doodles and drawings, I discovered that I needed a language in which these creatures were at home in their environment. And Rococo seemed like it would be a great place for them…. And so, when I started to make these Boucher studies, I thought, what if I started to bring in trans bodies? And that’s what I did. So I set myself a project. I said, I’m going to draw every single drawing in this book [of Boucher works], which is 160-ish drawings. And I’m going to recreate them using my language.” —Molly Vaughan 

After Boucher: The Flagellation 

“This is oil on linen. In the original piece, the central figure is Christ. Here, it’s a trans figure being flagellated. And we can see that the people doing the flagellation aren’t just cis men, we also see other trans characters doing the flagellating, which kind of speaks to notions of internalized transphobia.” —Molly Vaughan 

After Boucher: The Flagellation

Frame of reference

François Boucher was an eighteenth-century French artist whose drawings, paintings, and etchings are considered epochal examples of the sumptuous Rococo style.  

A new installment in After Boucher, created specially for the Frye Art Museum’s Boren Banner Series, is on display through April 16. fryemuseum.org 

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