Art Fix Friday: December 6, 2019

Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen is open at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. The retrospective traces Vicuña’s career-long commitment to exploring discarded and displaced materials, peoples, and landscapes in a time of global climate change.

Cecilia Vicuña at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, where her solo environmental show runs through March; Photo by Angel Valentin for the New York Times

In an interview with the Art Newspaper, the 71-year-old Chilean-born artist says the exhibition’s organizers “read my work from a new perspective and sought to present it as an ecological, feminist and participatory practice.”

Front Page Femmes

The Washington Post reviews NMWA’s current exhibition Live Dangerously, noting that the photographs invite viewers “to contemplate the immense variety of female bodies and experiences they chronicle.”

BmoreArt interviews 27 women in the Baltimore arts scene about The Baltimore Museum of Art’s recent announcement that it would only acquire art made by women in 2020.

Hyperallergic revisits the 11 women abstract expressionists who participated in the 1951 Ninth Street Show; they are currently featured in a new exhibition at the at the Katonah Museum of Art, Sparkling Amazons: Abstract Expressionist Women of the 9th St. Show.

The BBC’s annual “greatest films” poll focuses solely on female directors this year; Jane Campion, Agnès Varda, Chantal Akerman, and Ava DuVernay all made the cut.

The Vienna State Opera presents the first opera by a woman in its 150-year history: Olga Neuwirth’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, which deals with duality and trans identity.

Charlotte Nebres is the first black Marie, the young heroine of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, at New York City Ballet; Photo by Heather Sten for the New York Times

This year, the New York City Ballet has cast Charlotte Nebres as the first black Marie, the young heroine of the Nutcracker, making strides towards representation and diversity.

The Los Angeles Times profiles playwright Aleshea Harris, “part of a vanguard of young, African American playwrights boring into questions of race and history through humor, drama, absurdity and tragedy.”

Feminist artist and activist Silvianna Goldsmith, co-founder of Women Artists in Revolution, has died at age 90.

In Mexico City, a group of women protested at the city’s Museum of Modern Art after a patron was expelled for breastfeeding; the museum has since changed its policy.

The Lily reviews A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana, currently on view at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Artnet News interviews artist Delphine Diallo about how she is “creating space for a language of photography that presents black women the way they see themselves.”

The New York Times profiles mixed-media artist Manal AlDowayan whose solo presentation at Art Basel uses text to explore the shift of Saudi Arabian women’s lives from private to public.

Exhibitions We Want to See

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami: (15,952km) via Trans-Sahara Hwy N1 is open at Gasworks in London. It is the first solo exhibition by the Zimbabwean-born artist and features intensely pigmented paintings that examine “the diasporic experience of being foreign in both places you call home.”

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Medicine Man, 2019; Oil on canvas; Commissioned by Gasworks; Courtesy of the artist and Tyburn Gallery; Photo by Andy Keate

At New York City’s Museum of Arts and Design, Vera Paints a Scarf celebrates the work of artist Vera Neumann, one of the most successful female design entrepreneurs of the 20th century, and her contributions to the field of American design.

—Hannah Southern is the fall 2019 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Director’s Desk: Roots to Routes

At the National Museum of Women in the Arts, we regularly rotate our collection to spark new thematic connections. This is an essential part of our curatorial philosophy. In a six-post series, I will explore the themes featured in our most recent collection installation. Read about our “Family Matters,” “Rebels with a Cause,” “Space Explorers” and “The Great Outdoors” themes, and stay tuned for more.

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat (b. 1957) addresses topics of exile and nostalgia in her multimedia works. In On Guard (1998), Neshat photographs the hands of a woman clasping a microphone. Out of frame, the woman wears a chador, an enveloping black garment worn by some Iranian women to cover their heads and bodies in public. Neshat photographed the woman’s exposed hands and inscribed Farsi poetry directly onto the image, forming a veil-like screen over her subject’s skin.

Shirin Neshat, On Guard from the series “Turbulent,” 1996; Gelatin silver print with ink, 11 x 14 in.; NMWA, Gift of Tony Podesta Collection; © Shirin Neshat

Perhaps because of gendered, racial, and class-based expectations about a woman’s “place” in the world, many women artists examine the subjects of homelands and migration. Artists in this section convey the impact that cultural identity, living environments, and community have on people’s perceptions of themselves and others.

Many artists identify with a mother country, creating images that demonstrate their emotional connection to familiar locales and cultural customs. Others yearn for a sense of belonging, focusing on the experience of physical journeys or the complexities that arise with exile, migration, and hybrid identities. These works reveal our global culture, in which “home” is primarily a state of mind.

Gallery Highlights:

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat (b. 1957) addresses topics of exile and nostalgia in her multimedia works. In On Guard (1998), Neshat photographs the hands of a woman clasping a microphone. Out of frame, the woman wears a chador, an enveloping black garment worn by some Iranian women to cover their heads and bodies in public. Neshat photographed the woman’s exposed hands and inscribed Farsi poetry directly onto the image, forming a veil-like screen over her subject’s skin. On Guard exemplifies some of the dichotomies that have shaped Iranian society: man and woman, communication and silence, freedom and oppression.

Faith Ringgold, American Collection #4: Jo Baker’s Bananas, 1997; Acrylic on canvas with pieced fabric border, 80 1/2 x 76 in.; NMWA, Purchased with funds donated by the Estate of Barbara Bingham Moore, Olga V. Hargis Family Trusts, and the Members’ Acquisition Fund; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

The story quilt American Collection #4: Jo Baker’s Bananas (1997), by Faith Ringgold (b. 1930), pays homage to African American dancer Josephine Baker. Baker left the United States for Paris, where she rose to legendary status and lived until her final days. The “banana dance” that she performed in 1926 cemented her fame. Offstage, Baker supported the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. and used her prominence to bolster support for the cause.

A large-scale collage including striped and polka-dotted fabrics; the masthead of Smith's reservation newspaper, Char-Koosta; parts of a U.S. map; and a comic strip. These collaged elements are juxtaposed with blocks of stained or roughly brushed and dripped paint.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Indian, Indio, Indigenous, 1992; Oil and collage on canvas, 60 x 100 in.; NMWA, Museum purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund; © Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

The richly layered painting Indian, Indio, Indigenous (1992) by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1940) is influenced by her childhood on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. The work criticizes the historical desecration of American Indian lands and continued injustices to native peoples and their cultures. She said, “My work comes from a visceral place—deep, deep as though my roots extend beyond the soles of my feet into sacred soils.”

—Susan Fisher Sterling is the Alice West Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Women Artists of the DMV: Malaka Gharib’s “I Was Their American Dream”

DMV Color presents artists’ books, graphic novels, photobooks, and zines by women of African American, Asian American, and Latina heritage with ties to the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia—known locally as the DMV. The works on view depict intimacies of family life, legacies of enslavement, dislocation tied to immigration, changes resulting from rampant development, and more. On view in NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center through March 4, 2020.

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A head shot of author/artist Malaka Gharib. She smiles and wears a red button-up short sleeved shirt and has hear hair braided over her left shoulder.

Malaka Gharib photo by Ben de la Cruz

Washington, D.C., resident Malaka Gharib (b. 1986) is an editor at NPR, co-founder of the D.C. Art Book Fair, and zine artist. Her graphic memoir I Was Their American Dream (Clarkson Potter, 2019), chronicles her multicultural upbringing as the daughter of a Filipino Catholic mother and an Egyptian Muslim father. From her multiethnic hometown in suburban Los Angeles to the majority white upstate New York town where she attended college, Gharib constantly negotiated between her Filipino and Egyptian heritage—and the ideals of white America. “What are you?” is a question the artist explores with heartfelt insight and humor in this joyous tribute to her immigrant family.

The intricacies of family life and cultural tensions are major themes throughout DMV Color, and Gharib addresses them with nuance and authenticity. In playful red, white, and blue illustrations, Gharib depicts navigating clashing familial relationships, cultural values, religion, and food. Even within her high school’s diverse cultural pool, Gharib’s own ethnic ambiguity and fascination with white people in popular culture earned her a label of “white-washed” and treatment as a misfit. To be “normal” was to be white, according to teenage Gharib. Eventually, she found her stride as part of a motley, punk-loving, creative crew. She also learned to blend her family’s distinct cultures together, creating an identity all her own. Reading like a conversation with a close friend, this is the story all children of immigrants might have wished they had growing up.

Interior detail from "I Was Their American Dream" which depicts, in cartoon format, the author's Microaggressions Bingo interactive spread.

Interior detail from I Was Their American Dream; Copyright © 2019 by Malaka Gharib; Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

Gharib’s memoir is delightfully designed, featuring interactive elements including a family recipe for the Filipino soup monggo, a cheeky-yet-pointed bingo chart of microaggressions, and a paper doll of the author with various outfits that highlight her code-switching in college. Her simple and unique character designs reject racial caricaturing, reimagining race with a refreshing lens. In one section, Gharib’s renderings of her high school classmates’ yearbook pictures represent the diversity of her school without relying on stereotypical depictions. The artist flatly rejects monolithic narratives and depictions of immigrants and their families.

In an interview with the Asian Journal, Gharib explained how the negative, one-dimensional, anti-immigrant rhetoric of 2016 catalyzed her to write the memoir. “I thought about my dad who liked gardening and loved the movie Forrest Gump. He’s totally harmless. I wanted to correct the narrative that I was seeing.” In I Was Their American Dream, Gharib invites readers on a journey into her colorful world and leaves us with renewed empathy and understanding.

Elizabeth Chung is the fall 2019 Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: November 22, 2019

Clockwise from left, Mickalene Thomas (in sunglasses) included the artists Zoë Charlton, Theresa Chromati, and Devin N. Morris in her show at the Baltimore Museum of Art; Photo by Andrew Mangum for the New York Times

Clockwise from left, Mickalene Thomas (in sunglasses) included the artists Zoë Charlton, Theresa Chromati, and Devin N. Morris in her show at the Baltimore Museum of Art; Photo by Andrew Mangum for the New York Times

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has announced that it will acquire only artwork by female-identifying artists for its permanent collection in 2020. This new policy will help correct the gender imbalance at the institution—only 4% of the BMA’s collection is by women artists.

The commitment runs parallel to a series of upcoming exhibits at the museum celebrating female-identifying artists. One of those artists is Mickalene Thomas, who will open Mickalene Thomas: A Moment’s Pleasure, at the BMA on Sunday. The immersive two-story installation transforms the museum’s east lobby into a living room for Baltimore reflective of Thomas’s signature aesthetic. The artist has also included works by artists with ties to Baltimore in the exhibition.

Front-Page Femmes

Artnet interviews legendary gallerist and artist Suzanne Jackson ahead of her first New York solo show.

A Frida Kahlo painting of an unknown “lady in white” sold for $5.8 million at Christie’s Latin American art sale; it is the second-highest price ever achieved for the artist at auction.

Singer-songwriter and artist Solange recently debuted a new interdisciplinary performance, Bridge-s, at the Getty Center.

NPR profiles 19, a new musical about women’s suffrage set to premiere at NMWA on November 25 for a three-night run.

Artnet interviews Shirin Neshat about the artists who inspire her most, including Frida Kahlo and Cindy Sherman.

The New Yorker profiles Alicia Rodriguez Alvisa’s “You Are There, Are you there?, There You Are,” her new self-portrait series that doubles the artist through composite image.

An upcoming exhibition at Beijing’s UCCA Center for Contemporary Art by Chinese American artist Hung Liu was canceled after local authorities declined to issue necessary import permits; Liu’s work contains strong social and historical themes.

Hung Liu, Untitled (from the series “Seven Poses”), 2005; Digital print on paper, 14 x 14 in.; NMWA, Gift of the Greater Kansas City Area Committee of NMWA; © Hung Liu; NMWA holds multiple works by the artist in the museum’s collection

Hung Liu, Untitled (from the series “Seven Poses”), 2005; Digital print on paper, 14 x 14 in.; NMWA, Gift of the Greater Kansas City Area Committee of NMWA; © Hung Liu; NMWA holds multiple works by the artist in the museum’s collection

Anonymous Was a Woman, an organization that supports the careers of women artists over 40, announced the 2019 grantees.

Artnet interviews sculptor Andra Ursuţa, who transforms throwaway horror movie props into eerie totems.

Sculptor and Washington Color School patron Helen Stern died at age 89.

Author Susan Choi won the National Book Award for her novel Trust Exercise.

NPR profiles Rose McAdoo—a pastry chef who uses cakes to make scientific ideas (literally) digestible.

Hyperallergic profiles Sylvia Fein, one of the last living Surrealist painters, on her 100th birthday.

The New York Times interviews Waad al-Kateab, director of the documentary For Sama, on her life as a refugee in England.

Cecilia Vicuña won the 2019 Premio Velázquez de Artes Plásticas, Spain’s most prestigious art award.

Marina Abramovic’s The Life will be the first mixed-reality artwork auctioned by Christie’s.

Shows We Want to See

Dora Maar is now open at the Tate Modern. The Guardian reviews the comprehensive retrospective, calling it a “meticulously mapped-out reappraisal of Maar’s long and restlessly inventive creative journey.”

Haegue Yang, Strange Fruit, 2012–13; Six light sculptures; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Purchased with funds provided by the Acquisition and Collection Committee Installation

Haegue Yang, Strange Fruit, 2012–13; Six light sculptures; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Purchased with funds provided by the Acquisition and Collection Committee Installation

Haegue Yang: In the Cone of Uncertainty is on view at The Bass in Miami. The exhibition includes multisensory installations, light sculptures, and a commissioned piece that explores Miami Beach’s relationship to the climate crisis.

—Hannah Southern is the fall 2019 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Judy Chicago—The End: Mortality

The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, the newest body of work by iconic feminist artist Judy Chicago, continues the artist’s practice of tackling taboo subjects. In these works, she offers a bold reflection on mortality and the destruction of entire species. Visually striking and emotionally charged, the exhibition comprises more than 35 paintings on black glass and porcelain, as well as two large-scale bronze reliefs. On view September 19, 2019–January 20, 2020.

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On a black background, a nude female figure painted in cool, translucent colors lays on a multicolored block with her hands folded over her chest. Atop her the sentence "Everyone hopes to die peacefully" is painted in cursive print.

Judy Chicago, How Will I Die? #1, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2015; Kiln-fired glass paint and luster on black glass, 9 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

When Judy Chicago (b. 1939) first began her research on the topic of death and its representation in art, the artist was struck by societies that have acknowledged life’s inevitable end with awareness and acceptance. Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and many American Indian cultures believed that the spirits of the dead continued on—death was merely a change in existence. The Mexican Día de los Muertos tradition can be traced back to Aztec feasts where family members honored their dead and supported their spiritual journey. The Korowai people of Indonesia speak of themselves as being in the process of dying in everyday conversation. Hyolmo Buddhists in Nepal regard dying “as an intricate art to be learned…to ensure a smooth passage into the next life as well as a successful rebirth.” Chicago embarked on The End as a personal exercise in coming to terms with her own fear of death.

In the “Mortality” section, Chicago explores her own death across 20 black glass panels. The figure in each work has the artist’s shock of bright curls and presents a vivid vision of her eventual demise. Chicago, who says she has always been aware of her own mortality, became even more cognizant after a health scare in 2012. The works in this section are rendered in kiln-fired glass paint, an extremely time-consuming and laborious process, with multiple firings needed to achieve the artist’s desired effect. Chicago chose black glass, which is both strong and fragile, because “it seems a perfect metaphor for life.”

Judy Chicago - Sweet Prospect

Judy Chicago, Sweet Prospect, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2015; Kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, 9 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Judy Chicago - How Will I Die _9 _A_

Judy Chicago, How Will I Die? #9, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2015; Kiln-fired glass paint, Liquid Bright, and oil paint on black glass, 9 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Judy Chicago - How Will I Die _7

Judy Chicago, How Will I Die? #7, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2015; Kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, 9 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Judy Chicago - Title Panel Mortality

Judy Chicago, Title Panel: Mortality, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2015; Kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, 9 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Handwritten text is an integral element in The End. In “Mortality,” Chicago uses writing to both comfort and question. The artist incorporates musings on death from a number of celebrated thinkers including Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, and Socrates, who once said, “If death is simply the end of our sense, then it is like a long dreamless sleep, and therefore, a sweet prospect.” In startling works that envision possible scenarios surrounding her own death, Chicago asks pointed questions: “Will I die embracing the light?” “Will I die screaming in pain?” Another panel presents synonyms and metaphors for death—demise, release, oblivion, be no more—an exercise in sorting through meaning around this amorphous, unknown, universal experience.

In The End, Chicago intentionally addressed the one subject that most people in Western societies work diligently to avoid: their own impermanence. “As difficult as it was to confront my own mortality, it brought me to a place of acceptance,” Chicago said. “I hope that I will be able to face my end with courage, grace, and humor.”

Art Fix Friday: November 15, 2019

The Spanish advocacy group Mujeres en las Artes Visuales will release a digital-analysis service in 2020 that will evaluate the gender breakdown of museum collections and offer recommendations for improvement. The service will track the amount of money museums spend on artworks by female artists compared to male artists, how much space is dedicated to these pieces in the galleries, and how often they are on view.

Visitors enjoy a Free Community Day at NMWA, where the galleries are fully dedicated to women artists year round

Visitors enjoy a Free Community Day at NMWA, where the galleries are fully dedicated to women artists year round; Photo by Kevin Allen

In an interview with El Pais, Mujeres en las Artes Visuales president María José Magaña said the group’s goal is not “to carry out audits that denounce [a museum’s] methods as erroneous, but to learn together to improve.”

Front-Page Femmes

The Getty Center has launched a new podcast, hosted by curator Helen Molesworth, called “Recording Artists: Radical Woman.” Each of the six episodes focus on 20th-century artists: Alice Neel, Lee Krasner, Betye Saar, Helen Frankenthaler, Yoko Ono, and Eva Hesse.

Slate published an author-editor conversation between Jenny Slate and Jean Garnett about the genesis of Slate’s new essay collection Little Weirds.

Artsy interviews Judy Chicago and discusses some of her bodies of work that have been overshadowed by The Dinner Party.

The Guardian reviews Diane Watt’s new book, Women, Writing and Religion in England and Beyond, 650–1100, which presents evidence of women’s writing centuries earlier than scholars previously understood.

Gillian Jagger in New York, 1964; The artist crouches above a white canvas and sculptural piece in process

Gillian Jagger in New York, 1964; Courtesy of David Lewis Gallery

Land art sculptor Gillian Jagger has died at age 88. “Her work is attuned to and profoundly sensitive of the natural world as it is,” wrote the David Lewis Gallery.

Betye Saar won the $110,000 Wolfgang Hahn Prize from the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed NMWA’s current exhibition Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age, calling the show “thoughtfully selected, informative and sometimes surprising.”

Maya Lin’s planned June 2020 installation, Ghost Forest, in Madison Square Park, will replant cedar trees from a forest destroyed by Hurricane Sandy as a response to climate change.

The LA Philharmonic debuted Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz’s new work Yanga.

The Guerrilla Girls have launched a new ad campaign targeted at the Museum of Modern Art; the group urges the museum to cut alleged ties to Jeffrey Epstein.

Zadie Smith reviews painter Celia Paul’s memoir Self-Portrait.

The New Yorker presents Amy Bench’s animated short A Line Birds Cannot See, the story of a woman’s perilous journey to the U.S. from Guatemala. “I wanted to tell an immigration story from a female perspective,” Bench said.

Exhibitions We Want to See

Anila Quayyum Agha: Between Light and Shadow is on view at the Toledo Museum of Art. Agha creates intricate patterns using light and shadow. “This exhibition will offer… visitors an immersive, sensory experience,” curator Diane Wright said. “[Visitors’] movements will modify the projected light and patterned shadows, creating a unique interaction with each visit.”

People experience Anila Quayyum Agha's installation Intersections, 2013; Site-specific installation at Rice University Art Gallery, 2015

Anila Quayyum Agha, Intersections, 2013; Site-specific installation at Rice University Art Gallery, 2015; Photo by Nash Baker

Berthe Morisot: Impressionist Original is open at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The Houston Chronicle writes, “what’s great about Morisot is her expression of everything Impressionism is about: the fleeting nature of time, light and life.”

—Hannah Southern is the fall 2019 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age: Illuminating the Natural World

Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age presents paintings and prints by eight successful artists in the Netherlands during the 17th and early 18th centuries—a period of unprecedented economic growth. Works are drawn primarily from NMWA’s collection, with key loans that illuminate the artists’ lives and careers. The exhibition highlights women who excelled as artists, pushing boundaries in art and in life. On view October 11, 2019–January 5, 2020, this presentation features works by Judith Leyster, Maria Sibylla Merian, Clara Peeters, Rachel Ruysch, and more.

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Maria Sibylla Merian, Plate 1 (from Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam, second edition), 1719; Hand-colored engraving on paper, 20 1/2 x 14 1/2 in.; NMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

The lives and works of women artists of the Dutch Golden Age reveal connections between artists, patrons, and the subject matter of the natural world. The Dutch took pleasure in the wonders of nature—from flowers to food—and this is evident in the profusion of still-life paintings executed during the era.

The field of botany took root in the Netherlands, where one of the oldest botanical gardens, the Hortus Botanicus (est. 1638), still exists in Amsterdam. Private citizens also tried growing and maintaining the new species of plants that arrived via the Dutch East and West India Companies. One of these individuals was Agnes Block (1629–1704), a wealthy, educated collector of plants and art. Block commissioned artists, including Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), Alida Withoos (ca. 1661–1730), and Maria Moninckx (ca. 1676–1757), to document her gardens in paint and pencil. In 1687, Block commissioned Withoos to paint one of her prize plants: the first successfully grown pineapple in Europe. While Withoos’s painting does not survive, Merian’s two illustrations of it in her publication Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphoses in Surinam do. Merian based the images on observations of plants and insects during her travels to the Dutch colony of Suriname in South America.

Artists in Bloom

The greatest floral still-life painter of the Golden Age was Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750), whose compositions burst with movement and color. She achieved such authenticity because of her experience looking closely at organisms. Her father, Frederik Ruysch, was professor of botany at the Hortus Botanicus, as well as a surgeon, obstetrician, and collector. Art historian Maryanne Berardi notes that while surrounded by these natural wonders, Ruysch honed her observational power and artistic skill.

1986.282 GAP

Rachel Ruysch, Roses, Convolvulus, Poppies and Other Flowers in an Urn on a Stone Ledge, ca. late 1680s; Oil on canvas, 42 1/2 x 33 in.; NMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

2016.30

Clara Peeters, A Still Life of Lilies, Roses, Iris, Pansies, Columbine, Love-in-a-Mist, Larkspur and Other Flowers in a Glass Vase on a Table Top, Flanked by a Rose and a Carnation, 1610; Oil on wood panel, 19 1/2 x 13 1/4 x 2 in.; NMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

2009.9.1

Alida Withoos, Still Life with Irises, Morning Glory, Fox Gloves, a Red Lily and Other Flowers on a Forest Floor, ca. 1700; Oil on canvas, 27 1/4 x 22 1/2 in.; NMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Clara Peeters (1594–after 1657), a pioneer of still-life painting, was the only Flemish woman known to have specialized in the field as early as the first decade of the 17th century. When Peeters painted her largest and most exuberant floral work, A Still Life of Lilies, Roses, Iris, Pansies… (ca. 1610), the genre was still relatively new.

Withoos excelled in forest still lifes, or bosstilleven. Rather than depicting flowers in a vase, she anchored them to the forest floor, indicated by the tufts of sprouting grass. The grouping of flowers is pure artistic invention, however—bouquets like this do not grow naturally.

These artists flourished while creating authentic, imaginative renderings of the ephemeral natural world.

—Adapted from Virginia Treanor, “Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age,” Women in the Arts magazine, Fall 2019

Art Fix Friday: November 8, 2019

A collage image of a young girl wearing a crown and boxing glove, facing the left of the page. She wears a striped dress with two bows and has no legs.

Deborah Roberts, Glass Castles, 2017; On view at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College as part of the Feminist Art Coalition project

The Feminist Art Coalition has coordinated with more than 50 museums and institutions across the U.S. to feature feminist art in anticipation of the 2020 presidential election. The programming includes retrospectives, surveys, symposiums, and performances focused on feminist perspectives and concerns.

“The whole project is an attempt to be strategic and collaborative and collective in our institutional attempts to create a strong cultural network…in order to inspire civic engagement and critical discourse and participation in the fall of 2020,” said Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art at the UC Berkeley Art Museum.

Front Page Femmes

A traveling Yayoi Kusama retrospective in Europe will open in September 2020 at the Gropius Bau in Berlin.

The New York Times Magazine questions whether gender will always be an inherent part of the artist-genius trope in an article examining the lives and careers of Celia Paul and Cecily Brown.

The Dallas Opera and the Dallas Symphony are hosting networking gatherings for women in classical music to challenge the male-dominated world of composers and conductors.

Hyperallergic reviews At the still point of the turning world, there is the dance at the Sursock Museum in Beirut, Lebanon, which presents Helen Khal’s influence on the Beirut art scene in the 1960s and ’70s.

The Guardian reviews Radical Women: Jessica Dismorr and Her Contemporaries at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, U.K., which traces the career of the suffragist and artist.

A black and white self-portrait of Abigail Heyman, her face visible in a bathroom mirror against a dirty concrete wall, the counter littered with various bottles and makeup.

Abigail Heyman, Self-Portrait, 1971

The New Yorker examines Abigail Heyman’s feminist photographs of women’s lives. “Heyman’s work is the perfect illustration of ‘the personal is political,’” says photo historian and curator Clara Bouveresse.

The Art Newspaper discusses the need for museums to engage with Indigenous peoples: “Decolonisation is not simply a question of returning bodies that have been stolen, but also restoring the Native communities that continue to survive settler invasion.”

LACMA’s ninth annual Art + Film gala celebrated renowned artist Betye Saar in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibition Betye Saar: Call and Response.

Artnet News interviews art dealer Kate Shin and artist Sun K. Kwak about their non-traditional journeys into the art world.

Painter Monika Baer was awarded Berlin’s prestigious Hannah Höch Award, and Natascha Sadr Haghighian won the Hannah Höch Förderpreis.

Exhibitions We Want to See

Bridget Riley, a retrospective of the 88-year-old abstract painter’s career, is open at the Hayward Gallery in London. The Guardian called the show “seductive, erotic, piercing, tense” and noted that “the edginess of the early works gives way to calmer, richer, more contemplative works, a blaze of red gathering speed in a multi-panel painting, the delight of the great outdoors lassoed in whiplash curves.”

Artist Bridget Riley stands smiling, in a navy jumpsuit, in front of one of her vibrant abstract works.

Bridget Riley at the Hayward Gallery with her 2012 work Rajasthan; Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock

At the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Vivian Suter presents the artist’s layered and suspended canvases. Suter works closely with the natural environment surrounding her home and studio in Panajachel, Guatemala, often moving her vividly painted canvases between the indoors and outdoors and exposing them to the climate.

—Hannah Southern is the fall 2019 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

The Judy Chicago Research Portal: Preserving an Artistic Legacy

Feminist artist Judy Chicago has spent her groundbreaking career teaching and making art that centers her experiences as a woman. As part of Chicago’s efforts to overcome the erasure that has eclipsed the achievements of too many women throughout history, the artist has placed her archives with three institutions: NMWA, the Schlesinger Library for the History of Women in America at Harvard University, and Penn State University Libraries.

In a rare collaboration, these institutions have launched The Judy Chicago Research Portal: Learning, Making, Culture, linking the collections and presenting Chicago’s body of work, and the record of its creation, to a global audience.

Judy Chicago, Acknowledgement Panel (from The Dinner Party), 1979; Collection of Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Photo by Donald Woodman, courtesy of Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, NMWA; © Judy Chicago

Bringing together a museum, a private institutional library, and a public university library allows for the potential of each repository to consider and embrace new audiences and their collective interest in Chicago’s oeuvre and legacy. Chicago’s visual archives are housed at NMWA, her paper archives at the Schlesinger Library, and her art education archives at Penn State. The portal allows users to search selected items from the three collections or search the full repository at each institution.

Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study hosted an event to celebrate the portal’s official launch and introduction. It featured a conversation between Chicago and artist/activist Christina Schlesinger about the importance of archiving women artists’ history and making these resources publicly available in order to ensure their legacies are not erased—or forgotten.

In her research for her landmark installation The Dinner Party (1974–79), Chicago came face to face with the stories of women who had been erased from history. She then struggled to find a permanent home for the work—it was then that Chicago realized that her archive is her legacy. “As important as the work itself is Chicago’s refusal to let it and any understanding of its creation disappear,” wrote Thessaly La Force in the New York Times. “[Archives] are the authority on what or who will remain within the historical narrative.”

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Judy Chicago, 11 year old drawing, 1950; Mixed media on colored paper, 18 x 24 in.; Photo courtesy of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, NMWA; © Judy Chicago

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Judy Chicago, Orange Atmosphere, Brookside Park, Pasadena, California, 1968; Fireworks; Photo courtesy of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, NMWA; © Judy Chicago

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Judy Chicago, Rejection Breakthrough Drawing (from The Rejection Quintet), 1974; Prismacolor and graphite on paper, 40 x 30 in.; Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Photo courtesy of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, NMWA; © Judy Chicago

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Judy Chicago, Double Clear Handout/Handsoff, 2006; Etching and glass paint on clear glass, two glass panels: 18 x 24 x 0.5 in.; Photo courtesy of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, NMWA; © Judy Chicago

At NMWA, the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center’s Archives of Women Artists is dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of women artists. In addition to Chicago’s body of work, the collection includes correspondence from Frida Kahlo, drawings and correspondence by Doris Lee, the palette and brush of Eulabee Dix, printmaking tools used by Grace Albee, the Dulah Evans Krehbiel Card Collection, papers documenting the life and career of feminist artist Anita Steckel, and more.

The Library and Research Center’s digitization of Chicago’s visual archives is ongoing. More than 3,600 items have been processed and uploaded to the portal to date. Items include photographic negatives, contact sheets, and copy prints related to The Dinner Party; slides of Chicago’s early artwork; documentation of her major bodies of work; and copies of her lectures. The collection will grow over time as more materials are received from the artist’s studio. Browse the portal and NMWA’s visual archives.

Now Open: DMV Color

Elizabeth Catlett, Walking Blindly, 1992; Lithograph on paper, 22 3/4 x 18 3/4 in.; NMWA, purchased with funds donated in memory of Florence Davis by her family, friends, and the Women’s Committee of the NMWA

Washington, D.C., and its surroundings have long been home to a rich community of artists of color, including those born and raised here and others who built connections to the region—some while attending area art schools and universities, or while living here temporarily with military families. DMV Color, now on view in NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center (LRC), features an eclectic assortment of contemporary works by women of African American, Asian American, and Latina heritage with ties to the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia—known locally as the DMV. The artists’ books, graphic novels, photobooks, and zines on view depict intimacies of family life, legacies of enslavement, dislocation tied to immigration, changes resulting from rampant development, and other topics that illustrate facets of life in the DMV.

In a recent interview with Sasha-Ann Simons of the Kojo Nnamdi Show, LRC Director Lynora Williams noted the rich artistic exchange occurring in the region. “This is a hardworking region, and no one works harder than women of color,” she said. “It affects their ability to promote their art. For NMWA to have the honor of sharing the art of these women is very exciting.”

Global Heritages

Washington, D.C., and its extended surroundings have long welcomed artists of African, Asian, Native, and Latinx heritage. This history stretches from the 1700s and earlier, to the influx of formerly enslaved African Americans who flocked here during the Civil War and Reconstruction. More recently, immigrants from East, West, Central, and Southern Africa; Central and South America; Central Asia; the Middle East; Southeast Asia; and other regions have settled in the DMV—many fleeing armed conflicts, repressive governments, or economic crises. Women of diverse heritages and DMV experiences, often united by a desire to be freed of restrictive social norms, have learned from and inspired one another in their creative endeavors.

Featured Artists

The 19 artists in DMV Color convey their identities in a wide variety of formats. Signifiers such as food, the admonitions of grandmothers, textiles, and childhood memories can be found across the boundaries of culture and medium. Featured artists and works include:

Robin Ha’s Cook Korean! (2016), graphic novel and cookbook

Robin Ha, Cook Korean!, 2016—Ha moved to the U.S. from Korea at 14. Her graphic novel and cookbook contains recipes, colorful illustrations, and information about the basic ingredients found in a Korean kitchen.

Elizabeth Catlett, Walking Blindly, 1992—Raised in Washington, D.C., Catlett studied at Howard University under artist Loïs Mailou Jones, whose children’s book illustrations are also included in this exhibition. Catlett split her time between New York City and Mexico City, primarily creating prints and sculptures. Her images explore themes of maternity and childhood as well as race, politics, violence, and voice.

Sabrina Barekzai, Afghan Superstitions, Vol. 2, 2016—Incorporating stories that the author heard as a child from friends and family, Barekzai’s zine intersperses Afghan superstitions with photos of Barekzai’s family from the 1980s. Northern Virginia’s Afghan community is believed to be the second largest in the United States.

Visit DMV Color in person to see these works through March 4, 2020.