Stuart Netsky’s exhibition A Leopard Doesn’t Change Her Spots is, at its core, based on Marie Antoinette. Netsky looks to her life of extravagance, superficiality, excess, beauty and betrayal into new sculptural works and floor mats. In these works, he appropriates both art historical references and icons from popular culture – as disparate as Lucio Fontana and Michael Jackson. With these icons, Netsky emphasizes the underlying violence and sexual symbolism that prevailed under the reign of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. He is particularly interested in the rampant hypocrisy and extravagant superficiality of their era. In fact, the show’s title is derived from an 18th century caricature of Marie Antoinette as a leopard published during the downfall of Louis XVI. As France was crumbling, Marie Antoinette made empty promises of reform which never came to fruition, and the French people depicted her as one who would not change her ways.
Stuart Netsky has had over a dozen solo exhibitions in Philadelphia and New York since 1990. His first museum survey, organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 1993, included a multi-part installation referencing the AIDS epidemic and issues of vanity and mortality. Netsky’s work has been in shows across the U.S. including Mind Over Matter: Reworking Women’s Work (Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM); Influence, Anxiety and Gratitude (List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge, MA); and S(how) (Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA).