Art Fix Friday: June 14, 2019

Judy Chicago's painting on porcelain "Acceptance," in it a naked figure holds her outstretched arms up to the sky with a yellow glow around them, and her face, which also looks up and euphoric.

Judy Chicago, Stages of Dying 6/6: Acceptance, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2015; China paint on porcelain, 16 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

artnet interviews Judy Chicago in advance of her 80th birthday and the release of her new body of work on mortality and extinction, which will debut at NMWA this fall.

The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction opens on September 19 and will feature nearly 40 visually striking works in painted porcelain and glass, as well as two large bronze sculptures. Confronting the tough subject matter was “unbearable,” the artist said.

Front-Page Femmes

The New Yorker looks at Peggy Parish’s Amelia Bedelia children’s book series, calling the character “a figure of rebellion: against the work that women do in the home…that lower-class women do for upper-class women.”

The National Sound Library of Mexico has released what is believed to be the only known surviving audio recording of Frida Kahlo

Mickalene Thomas will open a major installation, Better Nights, at Miami’s Bass Museum in December 2019.

A new report looks at the representation of women artists in the U.K. visual arts sector and shows that while representation in public institutions has increased, commercial galleries still lag behind.

The Atlantic reflects on the “grueling fight for suffrage” in a series about women and political power.

To market season three of the The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu staged a one-day public art show featuring 140 mirrored statues of female figures in New York City.

Artist Farah Al Qasimi sits in her studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, surrounded by her photographs from her home country, the United Arab Emirates. The photos are vibrant and colorful.

Farah Al Qasimi in her studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, surrounded by her photographs; Credit: Gabriela Herman for the New York Times

The New York Times profiles Farah Al Qasimi, whose colorful works examine gender roles and the place of women in her home country, the United Arab Emirates.

At the 2019 Tony Awards, Hadestown made history as the first production written and directed by women to win best musical.

Art Basel has removed part of Andrea Bowers’s Open Secret installation, which looks at recent sexual harassment claims at the fair, after a survivor says she did not give permission for her images to be included in the piece.

The Atlantic reviews Lee Krasner’s Barbican Centre exhibition, calling it a “spectacular retrospective that exposes the fullness of her career for the first time.”

Shows We Want to See

Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance—“a monumental show of sex, anger, and pain”—opens on June 15 at London’s MK Gallery. It is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in over 20 years and spans her entire career. The exhibition includes previously unseen works on loan from the artist’s family and close friends, which reflect Rego’s perspective as a woman immersed in urgent social issues, specifically women’s rights and abortion. Rego has released a limited-edition print in association with MK Gallery, Untitled Abortion (2000), which she hopes will draw attention to the dangers of making abortion illegal.

A triptych of paintings by Paula Rego which depict three women who are in the process of having an abortion--one sits curled on a bed with a bucket nearby, another sits with her legs up and spread, and a third sits over a bucket and towel.

Paula Rego, Abortion Protest…Triptych, 1997–98, which helped change public opinion in Portugal; Photograph: Paula Rego, courtesy Marlborough International Fine Art

Nancy Spero: Paper Mirror is on view at MoMA PS1 through June 23. The show traces the full arc of the artist’s “radical body of work that confronted oppression and inequality while challenging the aesthetic orthodoxies of contemporary art.” It is the first major museum exhibition of her work in the U.S. since the artist’s death in 2009.

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Modern Makers: Kim Sandara

Interview with Kim Sandara, a queer Laotian/Vietnamese artist based in Northern Virginia. Join us tomorrow night from 6–8 p.m. for Being: An Evening with Kim Sandara. Participate in a collaborative drawing with the artist and check out recent paintings. Music and Lao food provided.

Photo of artist Kim Sandara standing in front of a gallery wall of her painted works.

Kim Sandara; Photo by Mariah Miranda

Can you tell us a little bit about your artwork?

I create paintings that translate music and sound into visuals. I’m also working on an autobiographical “coming out” graphic novel, Origins of Kin & Kang. On the side, I participate in art markets and make zines, earrings, trinkets, and stickers.

Where does your inspiration come from?

A lot of my painting practice draws from childhood nostalgia and moments where I watched my mom play around with her handwriting. I’m also inspired by playful doodling, calligraphy, and the idea of how we identify ourselves by our handwriting. I started creating this type of work when I came out, so that is also another inspiration. I like to explore the idea of suppression versus expression and being able to dip into a subconscious realm where not everything has to have a reason or coherent thought—it just exists within you.

When did you incorporate music into your artwork?

I discovered abstract painting in college. One day, my teacher asked the class to draw music for six hours. By the end of that class I was so taken by the practice of zoning into a subconscious state that I finished a 50-foot roll of paper. The drawing was very action-oriented and spontaneous, as if the sound was leading me and taking over. After that, I decided to explore working with music more.

Kim Sandara's "Sometimes I Dream in Lao," an abstract drawing containing whimsical brushstrokes that resemble lily pads, birds, and water in some parts. The color scheme is teal, light blue, specked with maroon accents.

Kim Sandara, Sometimes I Dream in Lao (2018); Gouache, colored pencil, and markers on paper

What music do you listen to when you paint?

I listen to everything. I also make it a point to never reveal what I’m listening to because I don’t like the idea of a painting being seen in a certain way. I like to make paintings that interact with my own subconscious but that also question a viewer’s interpretation, what they might be hearing or seeing. The viewer’s interpretation is just as important as the artist’s intention.

What women artists inspire you?

I admire Ruth Asawa and Yayoi Kusama. I also look to Charline Von Heyl for compositional help. Linn Meyers is someone I looked up to from the moment I went to the Hirshhorn and saw her drawings. It was so inspirational to see something that was continuous and flowing.

Industrial Aesthetic: The Tire Sculptures of Betsabée Romero and Chakaia Booker

The rubber tire, a globally omnipresent object that is mass-produced more than a billion times each year, is used as a medium by two artists whose work is on view at NMWA. Signals of a Long Road Together by Betsabée Romero (b. 1963) is the newest installation in the museum’s New York Avenue Sculpture Project. Inside the building, the monumental wall sculpture Acid Rain (2001) by Chakaia Booker (b. 1953) comprises more than 2,000 pounds of tires and rubber tubing. These two works both address culture, heritage, and environmental concerns in extraordinary ways.

New York Avenue Sculpture: Betsabeé Romero Installation

Betsabeé Romero, Movilidad en suspenso (Mobility in suspense) (foreground) and Huellas y cicatricez (Traces and scars) (background); Photo by Lee Stalsworth

New York Avenue Sculpture: Betsabeé Romero Installation

Betsabeé Romero, Huellas y cicatricez (Traces and scars) (detail); Photo by Lee Stalsworth

New York Avenue Sculpture: Betsabeé Romero Installation

Betsabeé Romero, En cautiverio (In captivity) (detail); Photo by Lee Stalsworth

New York Avenue Sculpture: Betsabeé Romero Installation

Betsabeé Romero, Huellas y cicatricez (Traces and scars); Photo by Lee Stalsworth

New York Avenue Sculpture: Betsabeé Romero Installation

Betsabeé Romero, Movilidad y tensión (Mobility and tension); Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Romero and Booker live and work in the two largest metropolises in North America—Mexico City and New York City—where pollution and waste are abundant. The sprawling roads of her bustling hometown have provided Romero with no shortage of used tires, which she describes as “one of the worst waste products of the automobile industry” given their bulk and durability. By carving the tires with patterns and imagery—snakes from Aztec artwork, a fleeing family to signify migration—Romero is able to transform this generic waste into meaningful artwork. Similarly, Booker, who moved to Manhattan in the 1980s when the city was notoriously dangerous and dirty, has made a practice of gathering shredded tires from the roadside and alleys, turning the material into art. Her work serves as an aesthetic response to the urban landscape she has known her whole life. “My palette is the textures of the treads, the fibers from discarded materials, and tires that I use to create varied effects,” Booker once explained.

Works by Romero and Booker also share a deep compassion for culture and heritage. Romero manipulates tires as a material that has been central to Mexican culture—from Mesoamerican ball games to the modern trade economy—while also “evoking traditional Mexican motifs” through her carved patterns and design. Tires are also a metaphor for human migration, always a pertinent topic within Mexico and across humanity at large. Booker’s artistic practice is a way for her to navigate the African American diaspora. Black is the primary color in all of her work, acting as an affirmation of strength. By fashioning art out of discarded tires, she evokes the beauty of African American people, despite the hardships they have faced. Her patterns and geographic shapes, sometimes based on traditional African textiles, carry this metaphor further.

Chakaia Booker's Acid Rain is a large sculpture made out of old tires that have been shressed, cut, and frayed. They are layered and coiled on top of each other to create a hulking sculpture that twists, turns, and juts outward.

Chakaia Booker, Acid Rain, 2001; Rubber tires and wood, 120 x 240 x 36 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund; © Chakaia Booker

These disparate works demonstrate how two artists living thousands of miles apart are both able to make versatile artistic use of the same—unexpected—material. Rubber tires are a tough material, often associated with masculine or industrial purposes rather than aesthetic, and yet these sculptors have made the medium their own, making powerful art as well as exploring the contemporary issues that reflect their values.

—Joshua Weiner was the fall 2018 digital communications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: June 7, 2019

At the Serpentine Galleries in London, artist and activist Faith Ringgold has just opened her first solo show at a European institution.

Faith Ringgold's painting American People Series #20: Die was made in 1967, the year of widespread race riots across the U.S. It is Ringgold’s response to Picasso’s Guernica and features a 15 figures--both black and white people--with arms and legs akimbo and shocked looks on their faces, some covered in blood, some holding knifes and guns, some running, and some protecting one another.

Ringgold’s painting American People Series #20: Die was made in 1967, the year of widespread race riots across the U.S. It is Ringgold’s response to Picasso’s Guernica. “I just wanted the riots, the hate, the violence to end,” she said. Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2018 Faith Ringgold/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Featuring works from the past 50 years, the survey includes paintings, story quilts and political posters made during the Black Power movement, including one advocating to free activist Angela Davis. In an interview with The Art Newspaper, Ringgold said, “My paintings are about the American story, and it needs to be told.”

Front-Page Femmes

Hyperallergic looks at a recent study that shows that artists in 18 major U.S. museums are 85% white and 87% male; artist Mona Chalabi illustrates the data in her Who Are You Here to See? series.

Verna Hart, whose paintings were moving visual tributes to jazz music, has died at age 58.

Camille Billops, whose pioneering documentary films fearlessly and powerfully addressed difficult histories, has died at age 85.

Dazed highlights eight female artists who should be as celebrated as their artist partners—including Lee Krasner, Jo Hopper, Ana Mendieta, and Lola Álvarez Bravo, among others.

For the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in Manhattan, photographer Collier Schorr will present a new commission in partnership with the Stonewall Forever project.

Leah Chase, the “Queen of Creole Cuisine” and collector of African American art, has died at age 96. She showed works by Elizabeth Catlett and Jacob Lawrence at her legendary New Orleans restaurant Dooky Chase and served on the board of the New Orleans Museum of Art.

A portrait of Leah Chase from Brian Lanker's 1988 photo series I Dream a World, in which she stands smiling in her chef coat and apron in the middle of a French Quarter street with her hands posed on her hips. The shot is taken from close to ground level.

Leah Chase, in an image from Brian Lanker’s 1988 photo series I Dream a World, in the collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art; © Brian Lanker Archive

artnet published an excerpt of an interview with Jenny Holzer about language, part of Hauser & Wirth’s new publication for Art Basel 2019, Conversations With Contemporary Artists.

The world’s first permanent public artwork dedicated to transgender women will be dedicated to two pioneers of the gay liberation movement—Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

Hyperallergic interviews Shu Lea Cheang about her solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale, which questions the legal and visual regimes that shape gender and sexual norms; she is the first woman artist to represent Taiwan at the Biennale.

The Art Newspaper interviews Dominique Levy, co-founder of the Lévy Gorvy gallery, about her path to success and the art world’s current focus on women artists.

Show We Want to See

At the Newark Museum in New Jersey, Wendy Red Star: A Scratch on the Earth is the museum’s first solo exhibition featuring a Native American artist. The “impressively tight and consistent show” of just 40 works highlights the Crow Nation artist’s “timeless lesson that matters of government policy are also matters of people’s lives.” The exhibition closes on June 16.

Wendy Red Star’s Um-basax-bilua, ‘Where They Make the Noise’ 1904–2016 is a timeline of historical images of Native Americans and the artist’s personal photographs, arranged in a 130-foot-long installation and annotated by the artist in pencil.

Wendy Red Star’s Um-basax-bilua, ‘Where They Make the Noise’ 1904–2016 is a timeline of historical images and the artist’s personal photographs, arranged in a 130-foot-long installation and annotated by the artist in pencil; Photo courtesy of The Newark Museum

At the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel will open on June 9. Alongside new sculptural works created for the exhibition, Au Naturel features some of Lucas’s most important projects, including early sculptures from the 1990s that substitute domestic furniture for human body parts and enlarged tabloid spreads from the same period that reflect objectified representations of the female body.

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: May 31, 2019

At the Barbican Art Gallery in London, Lee Krasner: Living Colour has opened. The Guardian calls it a “thrilling major retrospective” that includes nearly 100 works—early self-portraits, Krasner’s “Little Image” paintings from the 1940s, collages created from torn-up earlier works, and her most impressive large-scale abstract paintings.

Left: Lee Krasner ca. 1938; Photographer unknown; Right: Lee Krasner, Prophecy, 1956; Photo courtesy of The Jewish Museum

Krasner shines in this exhibition, outside of the shadow of her husband Jackson Pollock and the battles she faced throughout her career. “It was…tough to be a woman artist amid the first generation of abstract expressionists…but Krasner kept going, still finding her way.”

Front-Page Femmes

Shirin Neshat will debut a new film on cultural identity at the Broad Museum in October; it will complement her survey at the museum, Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again.

Claire Bessède has been appointed director of Paris’s Eugène Delacroix National Museum.

The Brooklyn Museum has acquired Constance P. Beaty’s portrait of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Hyperallergic profiles the FEMMEBIT Festival in Los Angeles, which features innovative tech art from at least 75 women artists, as well as talks, screenings, and performances.

Lincoln Center Theater and the Metropolitan Opera will develop a new chamber opera based on Lynn Nottage’s popular play Intimate Apparel, opening February 2020.

Portrait of Mary Sully; © Collection of Philip J. Deloria

The Art Newspaper reviews Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists at the Minneapolis Museum of Art, which includes three triptychs from Dakota Sioux artist Mary Sully on display for the first time—possibly ever.

The Getty Research Institute has named Naoko Takahatake as its new curator of prints and drawings.

Frieze profiles Eleanor Antin, whose monographic exhibition at LACMA confronts aging and grief in a re-enactment of her groundbreaking 1972 project CARVING: A Traditional Sculpture.

Architect Liz Diller and architectural photographer Hélène Binet have been awarded the 2019 Jane Drew and Ada Louise Huxtable Prizes, respectively.

Colossal profiles painter Laura Berger, who has grown her presence as a fine artist and fostered creative partnerships for products like greeting cards, calendars, and wallpaper.

Shows We Want to See

Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here is the first major retrospective of the artist’s 50-year career and is on view at two San Francisco-based arts institutions simultaneously: the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The SFMOMA presentation tells a broad and rich history of her feminist art, while the YBCA showcases her community organizing projects. Lacy has “worked tirelessly to address social issues such as feminism, violence against women, racism and labor rights for nearly five decades.”

Judy Chicago, Birth Trinity, 1985; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society, NY

Judy Chicago: The Birth Project from New Mexico Collections opens at the Harwood Museum of Art on June 2. The exhibition includes large-scale needle works, drawings, and prints that all celebrate the birth process, from the painful to the mythical. “This is a moment when the world is belatedly recognizing Chicago’s art and when the debate on women’s control over their own bodies is current, again,” said art writer and activist Lucy Lippard.

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Director’s Desk: Family Matters

Marisol's The Large Family Group (1957) is framed by Patricia Piccinini's The Stags (2008) in NMWA's Family Matters gallery; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Marisol’s The Large Family Group (1957) is framed by Patricia Piccinini’s The Stags (2008) in NMWA’s Family Matters gallery; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

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 current collection installation. Read about our “Rebels with a Cause” theme and stay tuned for more.

When selecting subjects, artists and their patrons often turn to those closest to them: spouses, partners, children, parents, siblings, friends, and pets. Artists from all periods have created tender, naturalistic renderings of loved ones meant to record important moments or emotions. Their imagery sometimes even focuses on other species to represent all living beings that seek companionship and protection.

Historically, images of families created by women artists have tended to be sober and refined, in keeping with the traditional idea that family portraiture is a space for presenting tranquil relationships. Today’s artists examine a broader range of familial experiences, expressively depicting the moments of humor, insecurity, rivalry, and joy that shape family connections.

Gallery Highlights:

Zanele Muholi (b. 1972) is a South African artist and visual activist known for their self-portraits and documentation of LGBTQI lives in South Africa. Their portrait of two women, Katlego Mashiloane and Nosipho Lavuta, Ext. 2, Lakeside, Johannesburg (2007), expresses a sense of enchantment and happiness, defying the discrimination and violence often directed towards homosexuality in South Africa. By capturing their subjects in moments of intimacy and affection, Muholi emphasizes their humanity.

Alice Neel (1900–1984) depicts her boyfriend’s brother, Carlos Negrón, in T.B. Harlem (1940). Negrón had just moved to Spanish Harlem in New York from his native Puerto Rico. A bandage on his chest covers a wound from a treatment for tuberculosis, which spreads easily in densely populated neighborhoods. The archaic operation removed ribs to ease the effects of the disease. Radiating emotional intensity, Neel’s touching portrait of Negrón alludes to poverty as a social issue without sacrificing her subject’s dignity.

In the center of the room, the large-scale sculpture The Stags (2008), by Patricia Piccinini (b. 1965), presents two motor scooters transformed into futuristic creatures. They spar like male deer in the wild, evidently beyond human control. The Stags uses vehicle parts to evoke animal forms and the intimate relationships among these creatures.

zanele muholi, katlego

Zanele Muholi, Katlego Mashiloane and Nosipho Lavuta, Ext. 2, Lakeside, Johannesburg, 2007; Chromogenic print, 30 x 30 in.; Museum purchase: The Paul and Emily Singer Family Foundation with additional support from Nancy Nelson Stevenson; © Zanele Muholi; Courtesy of the artist, Yancey Richardson, New York, and Stevenson Cape Town / Johannesburg

alice neel T.B. Harlem

Alice Neel, T.B. Harlem, 1940; Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © The Estate of Alice Neel/Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York

Patricia Piccinini the stags

Patricia Piccinini, The Stags, 2008; Fiberglass, automotive paint, leather, steel, plastic, and rubber, 69 3/4 x 72 x 40 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Patricia Piccinini; Photo by Graham Baring

earl of gower Angelica Kauffman

Angelica Kauffman, The Family of the Earl Gower, 1772; Oil on canvas, 59 1/4 x 82 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Angelica Kauffman (1741–1807), one of the most successful portraitists in the eighteenth century, became a sensation in London, captivating society and shaping European visual culture. The Family of the Earl Gower (1772) depicts the British politician Granville Leveson-Gower, his third wife, Lady Susannah, and their children dressed in lyrical costumes and interacting with marble busts, lyres, and period props. Her Neoclassical style communicated the family’s prominence.

Marisol (1930–2016) was one of the most respected and popular artists of the 1960s. Her carved wood sculptures blend Latin American folk art styling with the wit of Dada and Pop Art. The Large Family Group (1957) is one of the artist’s earliest works. It depicts a family with members who extend their arms outward in a welcoming gesture—a gesture that I hope also invites visitors to think about their own associations with the word “family.”

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

Art Fix Friday: May 24, 2019

Artsy reports that at last week’s Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips day sales, “a total of 58 works by living female artists outperformed their high estimates—setting auction records for 13 of the artists, four of whom had never had works sell at auction before.”

Pre-show estimates placed French artist Julie Curtis’s Princess (2006) in the $6,000–$8,000 range, but it sold for a whopping $85,000; Amy Sherald’s Innocent You, Innocent Me (2016) sold for $280,000—more than double its $120,000 estimate

Pre-show estimates placed French artist Julie Curtis’s Princess (2006) in the $6,000–$8,000 range, but it sold for a whopping $85,000; Amy Sherald’s Innocent You, Innocent Me (2016) sold for $280,000—more than double its $120,000 estimate

Rather than attribute the positive performances to a trend, Rebekah Bowling of Phillips points out that these women are great contemporary artists who are pushing the boundaries of their mediums, and who have plenty of support from institutions and collectors.

Front-Page Femmes

Contemporary Indian artist Nalini Malani has won the 2019 Joan Miró Prize, which comes with $77,000 and a solo exhibition that will open at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona in 2020.

French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop is making history as the first black women to compete at the Cannes Film Festival with her feature Atlantics.

Beibei Fan joins Sotheby’s as the new managing director of China.

Landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson has been selected to create a new park surrounding the Eiffel Tower ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Aïda Muluneh, The Departure; Photo courtesy of The Atlantic

Aïda Muluneh, The Departure; Photo courtesy of The Atlantic

The Atlantic profiles Ethiopian photographer Aïda Muluneh, her vibrant images that resist the visual clichés of Africa, and her new photo festival that “aspires to shape a new vision of the continent.”

Vogue India celebrates the women who are taking center stage at the Venice Biennale—including 17 women curator-and-artist teams representing their countries in the national pavilions.

The Washington Post looks at how the National Cartoonist Society Festival, one of the biggest events in comic arts, aims to better represent women.

National Book Award winner Elizabeth Acevedo speaks to The Atlantic about her new novel and the diverse writers who are broadening the young-adult fiction genre—which is changing slowly, but surely.

Hyperallergic reviews States of Focus at Poland’s Wrocław Contemporary Museum, calling it “a powerful testimony to contemporary women artists who have endured and continue to endure assaults on their self-determination.”

Shows We Want to See

Huguette Caland, Bribes de corps, 1973; Photo courtesy of Huguette Caland

Huguette Caland, Bribes de corps, 1973; Photo courtesy of Huguette Caland

Lebanese artist Huguette Caland’s first U.K. solo exhibition opens today at Tate St Ives. Caland’s colorful, large-scale paintings and detailed drawings from the 1970s and 1980s “offer a delicate balance between the suggestive and the explicit.” Overlooked for most of her career, the 88-year-old artist has enjoyed recent recognition.

Actress Tilda Swinton has organized her first exhibition at New York City’s Aperture Foundation. Opening today, Orlando features work by 11 photographers that explore the themes of identity and transformation in Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel of the same name and the 1992 film adaptation that starred Swinton.

At the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., Ranjani Shettar: Earth Songs for a Night Sky features hand-carved wood sculptures and a multi-part piece that wraps up the gallery walls. The project was conceived in dialogue with Wassily Kandinsky’s artist’s book Klänge (Sounds) and Paul Klee’s late paintings that are part of the Phillips’s collection.

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Fast Facts: Marisol (María Sol Escobar)

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Marisol (1930–2016), whose work is on view in NMWA’s collection galleries.

Marisol Escobar circa 1963; Photo courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, and the World Telegram & Sun; Photo by Herman Hiller

Marisol Escobar circa 1963; Photo courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, and the World Telegram & Sun; Photo by Herman Hiller

1. Mum’s the Word
Marisol lost her mother to suicide when she was just 11 years old. Deeply affected by this loss, she spent years not speaking unless absolutely necessary. New York Times journalist Grace Glueck referred to these periods as “marathon silences.” Curious to hear Marisol’s elusive, ethereal voice? Listen to this 1968 interview from the Archives of American Art.

2. Welcome Home

The Large Family Group (1957), one of Marisol’s earliest wood sculptures, depicts a family of five standing in close proximity. With outstretched arms, the figures invite viewers into their intimate unit. A new addition to NMWA’s collection, this family previously called the Corcoran Gallery of Art home.

3. See Me?!

Marisol, like Judith Leyster (1609–1660), Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), and Kirsten Justesen (b. 1943), represented her own likeness to explore identity and perhaps to cement herself into history. Check out Self-Portrait (1961–62),  Mi Mama y Yo (1968), and Self-Portrait Looking at the Last Supper (1982–84) three important examples of self-portraiture in the artist’s body of work.

4. Honorable Mention

Marisol is one of 13 women artists represented in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. Her bronze sculpture of Father Damien (1969), a Catholic priest who served a leper settlement in Hawaii, depicts a stoic man at the end of his life, maimed by very disease that ravaged his community.

Flickr_-_USCapitol_-_Father_Damien_Statue

Marisol's Father Damien (1969) statue on display in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the United States Capitol; Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol

The Large Family Group & The Stags

Marisol's The Large Family Group (1957) and Patricia Piccinini's The Stags (2008) on view in NMWA's collection galleries; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

5. Loyal Lady

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, became first museum to acquire works by Marisol—The Generals (1961–62) in 1962 and Baby Girl (1963) in 1964. This institution held a special place in Marisol’s heart. Upon her death, she expressed her enduring gratitude by bequeathing her estate to the museum.

—Adrienne L. Gayoso is the senior educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Heavy Lifting: Behind the Scenes of The Contour of Feeling

Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling presents the artist’s monumental cedar wood sculptures alongside newer works for the first time. The poetic and expressive works, which also use leather, linen, and other organic materials, reveal the process by which von Rydingsvard gives outward visual form to her innermost ideas and emotions.

***

Gallery guards and educators hear a frequent question from visitors to the museum’s Ursula von Rydingsvard exhibition: how did you get these sculptures into the building? Many of the 26 cedar forms tower close to the ceiling and weigh hundreds of pounds. In fact, the sculpture Krypta I (2014), stands almost 11 feet high and weighs about 2,500 pounds. A conversation with NMWA Registrar Catherine Bade revealed the heavy lifting that occurred behind the scenes to bring The Contour of Feeling to life.

Road Trip

Most of the exhibition’s sculptures were sent on three large trucks from von Rydingsvard’s studio in Brooklyn, New York, to Washington, D.C. Timed to accommodate the museum’s public hours, its busy event schedule, and downtown D.C. street traffic, they arrived in the middle of the night and were carefully moved into the museum several weeks before the exhibition was scheduled to open.

Building Blocks

Due to their monumental size, the sculptures arrived disassembled into large sections in crates, and von Rydingsvard’s studio assistants came to help put them back together. Von Rydingsvard also includes a precise system of marks on the pieces themselves—some that are still visible on the finished sculptures—that help the installation team navigate assembly.

The Contour of Feeling Exhibition09

Installation view of Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling; Pictured left to right: For Natasha (2015), SCRATCH II (2015), Krypta I (2014), ten plates (2018) (back wall); Photo by Lee Stalsworth

For Natasha Install

Rigging equipment holds the final piece of For Natasha (2015); Photo by Neda Amouzadeh

Krypta Install + Natasha

Riggers work to install Krypta I (2014) and For Natasha (2015); Photo by Neda Amouzadeh

Ocean Floor_Unpacking

A section of Ocean Floor (1996) is unpacked in NMWA's Great Hall; Photo by Neda Amouzadeh

The Contour of Feeling Exhibition35

Installation view of Ocean Floor (1996), Zakopane (1987) (left), and little nothings (2000–15) (back wall); Photo by Lee Stalsworth

It Takes a Village

A team of 17 people, including NMWA’s registrars and exhibition designer, the registrar from the Fabric Workshop and Museum (organizers of the exhibition), fine art handlers, von Rydingsvard’s studio assistants, and the artist herself, worked approximately 100 hours to get the exhibition ready to open.

Wide Load

The biggest challenge of the installation was working with oversized pieces that were too big to fit into NMWA’s normal gallery space. To fit the wide, bowl-shaped Ocean Floor (1996), one of the gallery walls had to be cut back and getting it into the building’s freight elevator was a true feat of engineering.

An Art and a Science

Although von Rydingsvard’s sculptures look tough, their cedar wood and graphite materials are malleable, and the works—like all artworks—must be transported extremely carefully. “Rigging heavy sculptures is both an art and science,” Bade said. “Riggers can spend hours setting up the rigging and strapping the artwork before they actually move to install a piece.” They consider safety concerns specific to each sculpture, calculate the best angle for approach to the installation site, and test different lifts before final placement.

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: May 17, 2019

Ten years after her death—and after years of copyright limbo—more than 100 of Vivian Maier’s photographs will be available to British collectors for the first time at Photo London, May 16–19.

Vivian Maier’s Chicago (1962) posthumously printed, will go on sale at Photo London; Photo © Estate of Vivian Maier; Courtesy Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery

Vivian Maier’s Chicago (1962) posthumously printed, will go on sale at Photo London; Photo © Estate of Vivian Maier; Courtesy Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery

Maier’s body of work was discovered at a Chicago auction in 2007 when a local historian bought the contents of a repossessed storage locker and found a treasure trove of Maier’s photographs from the 1950s to 1970s. There is no evidence she showed her images to anyone. At Photo London, Maier’s photographs—printed posthumously from original negatives—are priced from $5,000 to $6,500.

Front-Page Femmes

A new report reveals that women now dominate Canada’s most powerful visual arts jobs, including four of the five director positions in major art galleries from Vancouver to Halifax.

On May 14, the elusive pseudonymous artist Lutz Bacher died of a heart attack in New York City. Her conceptual work explored “sexuality, power, and violence through politically charged juxtapositions of text and image.”

artnet examines how three North American museums are deaccessioning works to diversify their collections.

The National Gallery of London’s new Artemisia Gentileschi masterpiece began its unconventional tour of the U.K., where it will appear in doctor’s offices, schools, and offices.

Muslim Sisterhood co-founders Lamisa Khan, Zeinab Saleh, and Sara Gulamali; Photo courtesy of Muslim Sisterhood

Muslim Sisterhood co-founders Lamisa Khan, Zeinab Saleh, and Sara Gulamali; Photo courtesy of Muslim Sisterhood

A new documentary by artist Prune Nourry detailing her battle with breast cancer is co-produced by Angelina Jolie and Darren Aronofsky.

Artsy explores why, and how, female artists have used the self-portrait to demand their place in art history.

The London-based art collective Muslim Sisterhood seeks to “represent ‘normal’ Muslim girls who aren’t bloggers, fashionistas or Bake Off winners.”

Nan Goldin teams up with Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Huppert for a photography show—Versailles-Visible/Invisible—at the famed French palace.

Dia Art Foundation Director Jessica Morgan is breaking open the (male) canon of post-war art and leading the organization into a diverse future.

A scholar claims to have cracked the code of a mysterious Medieval manuscript, which describes women struggling to bathe unruly children. The academic believes that Dominican nuns compiled the manuscript as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon.

Shows We Want to See

Rina Banerjee, Take me, take me, take me...to the Palace of love, 2003; Plastic, antique Anglo-Indian Bombay dark wood chair, steel and copper framework, floral picks, foam balls, cowry shells, quilting pins, red colored moss, antique stone globe, glass, synthetic fabric, shells, fake birds; 13 x 13 x 18 ft.; Courtesy of artist, RB Storage, NYC

Rina Banerjee, Take me, take me, take me…to the Palace of love, 2003; Plastic, antique Anglo-Indian Bombay dark wood chair, steel and copper framework, floral picks, foam balls, cowry shells, quilting pins, red colored moss, antique stone globe, glass, synthetic fabric, shells, fake birds; 13 x 13 x 18 ft.; Courtesy of artist, RB Storage, NYC

At the San Jose Museum of Art, Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World presents almost 20 years of the artist’s large-scale installations, sculptures, and paintings. Banerjee tackles important issues of our time including immigration and identity; the lasting effects of colonialism and its relationship to globalization; feminism; and climate change.

At the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Kim Gordon: Lo-Fi Glamour is the artist’s first North American museum solo exhibition, featuring painting, sculpture, a new series of figure drawings, and a commissioned score for Andy Warhol’s 1963–64 silent film Kiss.

Opening May 18 at the Honolulu Museum of Art, Constellation—drawing in space by Marian Bijlenga presents the Dutch artist’s unique constructions. Approaching mark-making with material instead of drawing, the artist uses thread, fabric, and horsehair to create sculptures that play on positive and negative space.

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.