Servant in High Heels

Malcolm McKesson

Residence of the EU Ambassador to the US, Washington, DC

Malcom McKesson was born to wealth in New Jersey in 1909. He graduated from Harvard, served in the U.S. Army and seemed, from all appearances, to be perfectly well-adjusted. However, after he married poet Madelaine Mason in 1961, he abandoned his business career, ended all outside social activities, and devoted himself to being his wife’s servant and making art. Not until his wife died in 1990, when McKesson was well into his 80s, did he began to exhibit his work. Though McKesson said he had never developed sexually and was basically asexual, his drawings reveal a subtle, dark eroticism and hint at sado-masochistic themes. His dream landscapes are populated by androgynous figures engaged in mysterious rituals, telling a story, he said, both medieval and modern and harkening back to an Atlantean age before men and women became opposed to one another. McKesson’s work culminated in a fictionalized autobiography titled “Matriarchy: Freedom in Bondage,” heavily illustrated with pen and ink drawings. He described the hero of this manuscript as “a confused young man who finds his strength in servitude.” McKesson explained, “I want to rediscover a buried tradition, to rediscover the female in the man; I’ve looked for a long time for a social dimension to all this; maybe now the world is ready for this sort of thing.”

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American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM)

800 Key Highway

Baltimore, MD 21230

410.244.1900

info@avam.org

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