Art Fix Friday: July 3, 2015

“The art world is screwed: systematically, historically,” says Arabelle Sicardi in this Jezebel article. Artists Sicardi and Tayler Smith describe the experience of seeing an uncredited reappropriation of their artwork by a Yale MFA student.

Sicardi writes, “How many women artists have been erased from museums through pre-Instagram modes of re-appropriation: their works attributed to male colleagues in their studios, their mentors or their lovers or more visible friends. How many women only get into museums by being muses, and never the artist themselves?”

Front-Page Femmes

Misty Copeland made history this week as the first African-American principal ballerina in the American Ballet Theater’s 75-year history. BBCThe New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal explore Copeland’s successes. Copeland has graced the cover of Time, been in an Under Armour ad, and published a memoir. A mentor of Copeland, Raven Wilkinson, describes her own tumultuous history as a ballerina in the Jim Crow South in this article.

The performance artist Marina Abramović announced her funeral will be her last piece. Abramović wants three bodies buried in the cities she has lived in the longest.

Fashion designer Donna Karan steps down from her chief designer position. The Washington Post calls her “Seventh Avenue’s greatest advocate for professional women.”

Niki Johnson’s Eggs Benedict causes major controversy at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Commissioned graffiti in a tunnel in Mongolia raises awareness about violence against women.

Swedish artist Susanna Hesselberg’s installation at Sculpture by the Sea looks like a library lining a mining shaft.

Only 24% of all plays produced in the U.S. in the 2014-2015 season were written by a woman. In an effort to increase visibility of female and transgender authors, a Los Angeles-based group of producers and playwrights compiled a list of 53 most recommended plays.

Author Helen Castor’s new book puts Joan of Arc in context.

SheKnows media company launches an audience-driven video series featuring emerging female entrepreneurs hoping to launch their businesses.

Shows We Want to See

The first art show for The Kills singer Alison Mosshart contains 127 works—many of which were created while the artist was on tour.

Hyperallergic explores “social justice advocacy as art” in Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo/Evidence at the Brooklyn Museum.

Spaces of Mourning: Doris Salcedo brings a reviewer to tears. In this first comprehensive exhibition of the artist, “Salcedo focuses on the dirtied, repressed memories of society.”

Post cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post’s wardrobe is on view. Ingenue to Icon presents an autobiography of the philanthropist and collector through her clothes.

Throckmorton Fine Art holds a show of Mexican women photographers.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Acquisitions at the LRC: Spirit of Caesar, Soul of a Woman?

The next time you visit NMWA, come to the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center to see new books on women in the arts, as well as reference books, artists’ books, and more.

Artemisia Gentileschi: The Language of Painting
by Jesse M. Locker
Yale University Press, 2015

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) is perhaps the best-known female artist of the Renaissance. Her early life and works have been discussed extensively by scholars, and she is presented as an empowered woman—an evocative figure in the art historical canon. The artist once proclaimed, “You will find the spirit of Caesar in the soul of a woman.”

The cover of Jesse M. Locker's Artemisia Gentileschi: The Language of Paints

The cover of Jesse M. Locker’s Artemisia Gentileschi: The Language of Painting

Strangely, very little has been written about Gentileschi’s later years. Existing research predominantly frames her artistic career around the highly publicized trial that followed her alleged rape by one of her father’s studio assistants. Art historians have generally neglected to explore her success in the years afterward. Locker analyzes Gentileschi from a fresh approach in her book Artemisia Gentileschi: The Language of Painting. Instead of concentrating on the artist’s early life, Locker examines the artist’s mature years, her poetry, and her passionate love affair with Florentine nobleman Francesco Maria Maringhi.

Gentileschi’s later years were, arguably, the high point of her career. Later works such as Christ and the Samaritan Woman differ in style from her earlier creations, featuring more vivid color. Such paintings, Locker asserts, are more representative of the Gentileschi that scholars and art enthusiasts admire, and they were also better received in her lifetime.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Christ and the Samaritan Woman, 1637

Artemisia Gentileschi, Christ and the Samaritan Woman, 1637

In a noteworthy departure from other scholarly texts, Locker includes Gentileschi’s poetry. Although she had a weak grasp of grammar and spelling, Gentileschi’s poetry was well-regarded by notable literary figures, including Michelangelo. Venetian writers composed poems and letters praising Gentileschi as a figure worthy of remembrance.

Locker’s project contextualizes Gentileschi and her works and challenges prevailing assumptions about the artist’s life and personality. Her book makes considerable contributions to the field of Renaissance studies. Most importantly, it reintroduces us to an artist often pigeonholed by scholars by shining a light on obscured parts of her oeuvre, writing, and relationships with literati. With Artemisia Gentileschi: The Language of Painting, Locker presents a more complete portrait of the artist, as evocative and intriguing as ever.

You can find this book, along with other fantastic reads, on the wall display in the LRC’s reading room. If you’re touring the museum’s exhibitions, the library makes a great starting point on the fourth floor. In addition to beautiful books and comfy reading chairs, visitors enjoy interesting exhibitions that feature artists’ books, archival manuscripts, and rare books. Reference Desk staff members are always happy to answer questions and offer assistance. Open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–noon and 1–5 p.m.

—Bianca Rawlings is an intern at the Library and Research Center. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in art history with a concentration in late Italian Renaissance and Baroque art, focusing on issues of gender, representation, and marginalization.

5 Questions with Rebecca Hutchinson

The fourth installment of NMWA’s biennial exhibition series, Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition’s artists redefine the relationship between women, art and nature. Associate Curator Virginia Treanor spoke with emerging and contemporary women artists featured in Organic Matters.

Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015
Artist: Rebecca Hutchinson
Nominating committee: Massachusetts State Committee / Consulting curator: Jen Mergel, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

1. Organic Matters includes art that refers or responds to the natural world. How do you think your work Patterns of Nature relates to the theme of nature?

Rebecca Hutchinson; Photo by Kurt Keller

Rebecca Hutchinson; Photo by Kurt Keller

My work is inspired from ecosystem research, how things grow and survive within specific dynamics. Patterns are seen both formally and behaviorally.

2. Is this work representative of your oeuvre? How does it fit into your larger body of work?

This piece is new work; a new series working from the floor yet connects to the history of my work through ecosystem research. In this case, I have researched rock outcroppings and forest floor as well as botanical motifs in Persian rugs.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

A bucket. Everything is mixed with water, whether clay or fiber, and collected there again after being prepared waiting to be manipulated and used.

Rebecca Hutchinson, Patterns of Nature (detail), 2014; Porcelain paper clay, fiber, and organic material, 10 x 36 x 96 in.; Courtesy of the artis

Rebecca Hutchinson, Patterns of Nature (detail), 2014; Porcelain paper clay, fiber, and organic material, 10 x 36 x 96 in.; Courtesy of the artist

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and/or influence?

I look at both folk art and contemporary works by trained artists as well as aspects of nature.

5. What’s the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

A solo show of Eva Hild in Chelsea—forms were sensual and masterfully gripping.

Art Fix Friday: June 26, 2015

ARTnews writer Ben Davis follows up Maura Reilly’s recent article by asking, “What will it take to finally put an end to sexism in art?” The limits of counting, conditions for success, the pay gap, and the representation gap are cited as contributing issues. Some of the article’s sobering stats and opinions are:

  • In the U.S. only 30% of all artists represented by galleries are women.
  • Today, female college graduates make about 22% less than men.
  • Interest in feminism ebbs and flows over the years.
  • Art sales constitute a fraction of how many contemporary artists make a living.

Front-Page Femmes

A pioneer in feminist art, Miriam Schapiro, passed away at the age of 91. Hyperallergic, Artnet, and The New York Times discuss her teachings, her work with Judy Chicago, and her pivotal role in the development and definition of feminist art.

Greta Gerwig talks to The Huffington Post about the problematic expectations of female characters in movies. Gerwig says, “I think likability is not just an issue for characters, it’s an issue for women in general. It can be a real straightjacket limiting life. It can feel like you’re operating outside of social norms when that’s your highest value: to be liked. I think it’s really tricky.”

Nina Simone is the inspiration behind three upcoming films and a tribute album. The New York Times says, “Fifty years after her prominence, Nina Simone is now reaching her peak.” NPR explores the songstress’s life and career through five songs.

ARTnews gets a glimpse into Barbara Kasten: Stages at ICA in Philadelphia.

Hyperallergic covers Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm at the Drawing Center. Frank focuses on the grisly and grotesque aspects of fairy tales in an attempt to recontextualize favorite stories from a feminist perspective.

Speaking Back at Goodman Gallery highlights various female perspectives on issues of race, culture, and gender. The show’s curator Natasha Becker says the exhibition focuses on “imagination and the right of black women artists to imagine, and the power in that.”

Conceptualist photographer Sarah Charlesworth’s works are on view at the New Museum.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Questions with Dawn Holder

The fourth installment of NMWA’s biennial exhibition series, Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition’s artists redefine the relationship between women, art and nature. Associate Curator Virginia Treanor spoke with emerging and contemporary women artists featured in Organic Matters.

Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015
Artist: Dawn Holder
Nominating committee: Arkansas Committee / Consulting curator: Courtney Taylor, Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas

1. Organic Matters includes art that refers or responds to the natural world. How do you think your work, Monoculture, relates to the theme of nature?

Dawn Holder; Photo courtesy of C. S.

Dawn Holder; Photo courtesy of C. S. Carrier

I find the intersection of nature and culture to be fertile ground for artistic exploration. I am particularly interested in the way we cultivate, manicure, rearrange, and exploit the natural world.

The lawn, which I explore in Monoculture, is of particular interest to me because of its multivalent nature. It is a “natural space” in that it is comprised of plants and landforms, yet the lawn is a wholly artificial construct, a highly controlled space requiring labor, chemicals, and specialized equipment to maintain.

I am fascinated by suburban America’s desire to construct this hybrid artificial-natural landscape and what it signifies in terms of time and resources. I think the lawn is our culture’s fantasy version of the natural world.

2. Is this work representative of your oeuvre? How does Monoculture fit into your larger body of work?

For almost a decade, my work has explored the idea of landscape and domestic space through installation and sculpture. Aesthetically, my recent installations, such as Monoculture, have been influenced by the way Minimalist sculptures occupy space. Yet rather than being simplified, my work is highly detailed and engages surface as much as form. I align my practice to the repetitive and decorative craft tasks historically relegated to women, such as needlework. I think of my current studio explorations as combining horror vacui surface with minimal form, a Maximalist Minimalist approach. So far, Monoculture is definitely the most labor-intensive installation that I have created . . . . But the visual reward is worth it and I don’t see this aspect of my work changing.

Dawn Holder, Monoculture (detail), 2013; Porcelain, 2 1/2 x 92 x 176 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Dawn Holder, Monoculture (detail), 2013; Porcelain, 2 1/2 x 92 x 176 in.; Courtesy of the artist

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

My mind is my most essential tool, along with my hands, a bag of plaster, and maybe some random pointy objects . . . I could get by with a shish kabob skewer and old paring knife if I had to. Since my forms and materials change so much from project to project, the ability to brainstorm and solve problems has become an integral part of my creative process. Also, having the ability to push onward when mind and body are ready to give in becomes really important when making thousands of the same form. This perseverance pays off when I see all of the pieces massed together.

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and/or influence?

I read every day—books, essays, and articles about current events, social issues, the environment, pop culture, and art/craft theory. One idea I have been incredibly interested in lately is the necropastoral, a term explored at length by poet and critic Joyelle McSweeney. She states that the necropastoral is “a political-aesthetic zone in which the fact of mankind’s depredations cannot be separated from an experience of ‘nature’ which is poisoned, mutated, aberrant, spectacular, full of ill effects and affects.” Something about the forcefulness with which this idea recognizes and combines the devastating powers of the Anthropocene and the sublime forces of the wilderness strikes a chord with me.

5. What’s the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

I was recently in New York and had the chance to see Samara Golden’s The Flat Side of the Knife at PS1. This two-story installation depicts interconnected multiple levels which are variations of a domestic space, sparsely furnished with beds, plants, musical instruments, and other objects made from reflective insulation board. Mirrors and upside-down placement of objects further serve to confound the viewer, as do a number of misdirected staircases. I was enchanted by the way Golden’s installation plays with perception and dimensionality. The contrast of the aged, brick walls of the gallery space and Golden’s use of surface and material works to create an impossible, unreal, yet familiar space. The private nature of the setting also added to the unsettling and voyeuristic quality of the piece. I am attracted to work that creates an alternate space that I can project myself into, or even better, that I can momentarily lose myself in.

Art Fix Friday: June 19, 2015

ARTnews reports on painting and feminism during a panel featuring artists Rosy Keyser, Cecily Brown, and Joan Semmel.

In discussing Linda Nochlin’s famous essay, Semmel said, “There are many great women artists. And we shouldn’t still be talking about why there are no great women artists. If there aren’t great celebrated women artists, that’s because we have not been celebrating them, but not because they are not there.”

At the beginning of the discussion Semmel stated, “I was told that feminism was over a long time ago, and painting was dead. But here we are.”

Keyser added, “There needs to be a revolution every day.”

Front-Page Femmes

Arts patron and collector Valeria Napoleone launches new initiatives to increase the visibility of women artists in public collections. A work from a woman artist will be donated to a museum each year. The museum will, in turn, host a solo show for the artist.

Photographer Deborah Willis describes the current environment for black female photographers. “It seems we see a few of their names often, and I wonder if that is not just a function of social media. When you look closely though at collections and museum shows, then these artists tend to disappear.”

Harper Lee’s letters failed to sell at Christie’s auction on Friday.

Working with the Female Artists’ Foundation, these four African women artists explore societal challenges and preconceptions in their works.

Following author Kamila Shamsie’s call to action in a recent article in The Guardian, the publishing house And Other Stories will only release titles written by women in 2018.

Drawn & Quarterly has a history of championing female cartoonists and its current best-selling cartoonists are women. The New York Times examines Drawn & Quarterly’s advance of women in comics for their 25th anniversary.

The College Art Association (CAA) compiles a list of their top-picks for women-centered exhibitions and events. Check out what they are most excited for in June.

Shows We Want to See

A mind-bending retrospective of British artist Bridget Riley is open at the De La Warr Pavilion this summer. One review declares, “Bridget Riley is the most important British painter of the modern age.”

The Hammer Museum’s latest exhibition features a collaborative initiative of Los Angeles-based women artists and Afghan weavers.

She Came to Stay opens soon. This cross-generational exhibition of five women artists describes obstacles and displays women’s stories.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Food, Drink, and Fun: After Hours at NMWA!

Last Thursday, the museum held NMWA Nights: Earthly Delights, an after-hours event featuring two new exhibitions, Super Natural and Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015. Hosted together with members of the Young pARTners Circle, NMWA Nights provided staff-led tours of the exhibitions for over 100 attendees.

Attendees explore exhibition artworks, including Organic Matters artist Dawn Holder's Monoculture; Photo credit: Laura Hoffman

Attendees explore exhibition artworks, including Organic Matters artist Dawn Holder’s Monoculture; Photograph: Laura Hoffman

Super Natural features women artists who do not simply document nature but treat the natural world as a space for discovery and invention. Historical and contemporary depictions of plants, animals, and natural landscapes are juxtaposed to show the diverse ways that nature has inspired women artists.

Organic Matters is a part of a series presented every two to three years in which the museum’s national and international committees nominate up-and-coming women artists from their region to exhibit at NMWA. This year’s 13 selected artists work with the subject of nature in mediums ranging from photography to fiberglass.

Guests contribute paper flowers to a collaborative floor installation

Flowers in a collaborative installation; Photograph: Laura Hoffman

Between tours, guests met on the Mezzanine to sip on the specialty cocktail, cleverly named “Metamorphosis.” Participants sampled an array of tasty snacks—provided by Dirty South Deli in collaboration with Union Kitchen—all while listening to tunes by DJ Flying Fortress.

In the Great Hall, attendees explored their crafty side by pushing the boundaries of paper. Guests sculpted flowers and contributed them to a collaborative art project.

The floor installation featuring everyone’s paper flora and fauna was inspired by Organic Matters artist Rebecca Hutchinson’s Patterns of Nature.

Many added to a projected photo collage by instagramming their artwork and photo booth fun with the hashtag #NMWAnights.

Everyone who instagrammed—anything from floral photos to face-in-the-hole shots of collection artwork—was entered into a photo contest to win delightful prizes. Check out @womeninthearts on Instagram to see what people captured!

To stay informed about future NMWA Nights, networking events, and other fun and enriching opportunities, please visit the online calendar or join the Young pARTners Circle.

—Bridget Mazet is the development intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Flowers, Fruit, and Fatality

“What is natural?” is the intriguing question surrounding Super Natural. Two of the exhibition’s artists, Rachel Ruysch and Sam Taylor-Johnson, answer this query through their respective works of art. Ruysch’s painted still life and Taylor-Johnson’s video Still Life suggest that decay, death, and the passage of time are the most essential and inevitable processes in our natural environment.

Society has traditionally aligned women with nature because both can be pretty, graceful, and demure. Many of the women artists in Super Natural, including 17th-century artist Rachel Ruysch, challenge these characterizations.

Rachel Ruysch, Roses, Convolvulus, Poppies and Other Flowers in an Urn on a Stone Ledge, ca. 1680s; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Rachel Ruysch, Roses, Convolvulus, Poppies, and Other Flowers in an Urn on a Stone Ledge, ca. 1680s; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Ruysch and later artists chose to infuse their art with the scientific, strange, and abject elements of nature.

Ruysch’s Roses, Convolvulus, Poppies, and Other Flowers in an Urn on a Stone Ledge seems to depict a thriving bouquet of flowers. However, upon closer examination the arrangement contains fatal signs of decay.

The composition’s central pink rose wilts, showing the beginning stages of decomposition. Deep purple flowers, half-hidden at the rear of the bouquet, also droop. Their shadowy hue and sagging posture foreshadow the bleak future in store for their upright counterparts. Holes in the bouquet’s large green leaves also suggest impending deterioration. These subtle elements of decay allude to the passage of time and the subsequent demise of the plants.

Even the still life’s title reminds viewers that these natural organisms will not last forever. The bouquet stands in an urn, which sits upon a stone ledge—neither setting encourages growth or life.

While Ruysch’s painting subtly alludes to decomposition, Taylor-Johnson’s video shines a spotlight on the process. In her video, a plate of fruit disintegrates over several weeks. The time-lapse video compresses the breakdown to just over three minutes. As the decay progresses, the fruits seem to sigh and exhale their final breaths slowly, collapsing into an unrecognizable pile of rot.

Like Ruysch, Taylor-Johnson does not shy away from the foul qualities of natural decay. Unlike Ruysch, Taylor-Johnson has access to modern resources and technology that allow her to depict decomposition over an extended period of time.

Even without Taylor-Johnson’s technology, Ruysch does a masterful job of alluding to the unavoidable fate of her flowers. Both artists imbue their portraits of nature with the most natural life process of all: death. These works, as well as the other Super Natural works by Audrey Niffenegger, Janaina Tschäpe, Maria Sibylla Merian, and Maggie Foskett give “death” as the simple yet poignant answer to “What is natural?”

—Christy Slobogin is the publications and marketing/communications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Learn more about Super Natural, on view through September 13, 2015.

5 Questions with Goldschmied & Chiari

The fourth installment of NMWA’s biennial exhibition series, Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition’s artists redefine the relationship between women, art and nature. Associate Curator Virginia Treanor spoke with emerging and contemporary women artists featured in Organic Matters.

Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015
Artist: Goldschmied & Chiari
Nominating committee: Gli Amici del NMWA, Italy / Consulting curator: Iolanda Ratti, Museo del Novecento

1. Organic Matters includes art that refers or responds to the natural world. How do you think your work Nympheas #12 relates to the theme of nature and specifically to environmental concerns?

Goldschmied & Chiari; Photo by Giovanni De Angelis

Goldschmied & Chiari; Photo by Giovanni De Angelis

Nympheas #12 is part of a body of work that we started in 2002, mostly pictures of polluted landscapes inspired by Impressionist flânerie. The works in this series include photographs of plastic bags that appear like flowers, floating atop the polluted Tiber River in Rome. At the time we made these works, we were influenced by post-feminist theories and their questioning of what “natural,” “cultural,” and “artificial” were.

That’s why we started representing an artificial nature, using polluted landscapes and the common tool of plastic bags to show our personal view of flowers. We were asking ourselves about the relationship between gender and nature in history, keeping in our minds a mistrust of pureness.

2. Is this work representative of your oeuvre? How does it fit into your larger body of work?

The Nympheas are representative of our oeuvre. This body of work is the first step in our practice that highlights the need to go beyond the limits of nature and history, to inquire about the cultural, social, and visual construction of gender and landscape.

Goldschmied & Chiari, Nympheas #12, 2007; Color print, 49 1/4 x 131 1/8 in.; Courtesy of the Podesta Collection

Goldschmied & Chiari, Nympheas #12, 2007; Color print,
49 1/4 x 131 1/8 in.; Courtesy of the Tony Podesta Collection

3. As artists, what is your most essential tool? Why?

Our most essential tool is our relationship as an artist duo because it feeds our art practice, for example, so that we see multiple sides of one issue.

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and/or influence?

Philosophy, visual, and social studies, and our Italian historical background, which is often a subject of our works.

5. What’s the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

Late Turner at the Tate Modern during our recent research.

Art Fix Friday: June 12, 2015

Women in the performing arts make waves in this week’s Art Fix Friday. NPR reports that six out of the top ten box-office movies this year featured female protagonists—more than in the last three decades. However, only two films were directed by women. A new study also found that while women direct only 7% of the top-grossing films in Hollywood, they direct 29% of documentaries and 18% of domestic features screened at film festivals.

Although women were outnumbered in headliner spots at this year’s Governors Ball, The New York Times raves that women artists had the strongest and most ambitious performances. Women DJs are still few and far between at music festivals and representation isn’t increasing fast enough.

At this year’s Tony Awards, women brought home trophies in every major category—including big wins for the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel memoir, Fun Home.

Front-Page Femmes

Artist and activist Atena Farghadani was sentenced to over 12 years in an Iranian prison for drawing leaders of parliament as animals.

Famous for her polka-dot artworks and for her psychiatric clinic residence, Yayoi Kusama continues to be a favorite among wealthy art buyers, as well as the public. Last year, she was the most popular artist in terms of exhibition attendance, according to The Art Newspaper.

The Huffington Post covers the feminist music video experiment, “The Weird Girls Project.”

J.K. Rowling’s new novel is already the biggest gainer in sales rank on Amazon.co.uk, shooting up its pre-sales charts only hours after the announcement.

Shows We Want to See

Painter Susan Swartz, whose work NMWA featured in an exhibition in 2011, is featured in a solo exhibition at the Ludwig Museum in Germany.

Exhibitions in New York, London, and Mexico City focus on the life and art of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

The Tate Britain has a retrospective of modern sculptor Barbara Hepworth. The Guardian examines key pieces from her 40-year oeuvre.

After years of obscurity, the centenarian artist Carmen Herrera’s paintings are on view at the new Whitney Museum of American Art. Herrera was also included in last month’s New York Times feature on women artists who are finally getting their due.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.