Watch John Waters speak about why he loves art that frightens him

The cult icon reflects on his favourite piece of contemporary art in this exclusive video

“I hate hammers,” admits filmmaker, artist, actor, and cult icon John Waters, standing in front of Lee Lozano’s painting, “Untitled” (1963) which depicts the tool across two huge canvases. Waters jokes: “It’s a very butch painting by a heterosexual woman.”

The exclusive video is part of a series collaboration between BBC Radio 3 and MoMA, which aims to deconstruct contemporary art. Titled The Way I See It, the series is spearheaded by leading cultural figures who discuss the most inspiring and provocative works from the museum’s collection.

In the video, Waters reveals that Lozano’s painting moves him, explaining that he is most stimulated by works which frighten him. “I love the idea of how scary it is to me, and how powerful it is,” he says. “I hate hammers. If I had to hammer something in right now, I’d die... I’d have to die.”

“When I was a child, we had to hammer in school and I woke up crying and my father had to take me down and show me how to hammer,” Waters admits. “It’s still a trauma, so I buy art and love art that frightens me and gives me flashbacks to things that scared me, and then I overcome it by looking at it.”

“I think all contemporary art should threaten you... All art that changed anything made people angry at first. That’s part of its job – to make you angry.”

The Radio 3 MoMA collaboration will be a radiophonic series, examining key pieces from MoMA’s collection and reflecting on what it means “to see”. Other prominent voices in the series include author Roxane Gay, actor Steve Martin, composer Steve Reich, and comedian Margaret Cho, among others.

John Waters features in BBC Radio 3 & MoMA’s collaborative series The Way I See It, launching on October 14th, from Monday to Friday at 22.45 pm – 23.00 pm. The programme will also be available on BBC Sounds