NO MAN’S LAND: Doubles and Duos

Contemporary large-scale paintings and sculptural hybrids are on view in NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection. The exhibition imagines a visual conversation between 37 women artists from 15 countries exploring images of the female body and the physical process of making.

Hayv Kahraman, Migrant. I, 2009; Oil on panel, 70 x 45 in.; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Hayv Kahraman, Migrant. I, 2009; Oil on panel, 70 x 45 in.; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Hayv Kahraman, Dana Schutz, Nina Chanel Abney, and Kaari Upson use double portraits to explore different concepts.

What’s On View?

Hayv Kahraman’s Migrant. I, 2009

Inspired by Persian miniatures, Renaissance painting, and Japanese woodblock prints, Hayv Kahraman (b. 1981, Baghdad) uses portraiture as “representational activism” to serve as “a catalyst for social change.”

The figures of two women with nooses around their necks are joined in Migrant. I. One reaches down to touch the bound arms of the other, who is blindfolded.

Kahraman’s painting references the “migrant consciousness” and the double identity experienced by immigrants and refugees as they leave their home and struggle to adapt to new surroundings.

Dana Schutz’s Lovers, 2003

Dana Schutz (b. 1976, Livonia, Michigan) creates paintings imbued with vibrant colors and dazzling, faceted shapes. “I don’t want my paintings to be about the physical substance of the paint,” she says. “I think about what I want the image to be.”

Dana Schutz, Lovers, 2003; Oil on canvas; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Dana Schutz, Lovers, 2003; Oil on canvas; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

In Lovers, a couple embraces awkwardly in a secluded spot near a park bench. The seemingly reptilian arm of one of the central figures adds to the zaniness of the scene. Schutz’s narratives are her imaginative responses to riddles, conundrums, and perplexing contemporary events.

Nina Chanel Abney’s Khaaliqua & Jeff, 2007

Nina Chanel Abney, Khaaliqua & Jeff, 2007; Acrylic on canvas; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Nina Chanel Abney, Khaaliqua & Jeff, 2007; Acrylic on canvas; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Nina Chanel Abney (b. 1982, Chicago, Illinois) blends serious political themes together with playful colors. Abney’s work often involves an element of mystery. “I have a definite story in my head,” she says, “but I like to leave it to the viewer to figure it out.”

Khaaliqua & Jeff is a double portrait of a woman wearing yellow rubber gloves holding the arm of a man in front of her. “Everyone in the painting is kind of a suspect,” she says. “I use rubber gloves to symbolize that someone has done dirty work.”

The painting comes from a series of portraits meant to focus on subject’s “inner qualities and personality traits” by giving the impression that the viewer is witnessing an intimate moment.

Kaari Upson’s Kiss 8, 2007

Kaari Upson, Kiss 8, 2007; Oil on panel, Diptych, each: 48 x 48 in.; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Kaari Upson, Kiss 8, 2007; Oil on panel, Diptych, each: 48 x 48 in.; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Multimedia, installation, video, and performance artist Kaari Upson (b. 1972, San Bernardino, California) conducted an elaborate investigation into the life of a stranger for her series “The Larry Project.” Upson said, “Larry could be anybody. My main investigation is between self and other.”

After collecting and examining personal belongings from the remains of a house fire, Upson painted an imagined portrait of Larry. While the painting was wet, Upson “smashed it face-to-face with her own self-portrait,” merging their faces together in these “kiss” paintings.

Visit the museum and explore NO MAN’S LAND, on view through January 8, 2017.

—Kait Gilioli was the summer 2016 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: June 17, 2016

Artsy profiles 20 early or mid-career female figurative painters who are “creating inspiring figurative paintings that speak to the present, and offer glimpses into the future.” The list includes NO MAN’S LAND artists Nina Chanel Abney, Hayv Kahraman, and Mira Dancy—as well as NMWA artist Amy Sherald.

Abney’s work “swiftly tackle topics related to race, gender, and politics.” Artsy writes that “a critical mass of female painters are embracing figuration, diversifying it, and pushing the conversation around it forward.”

Front-Page Femmes

“Just Me and Allah,” a photographic series by Samra Habib—a queer Muslim photographer—shares the stories of LBGT Muslims.

Activist groups protest Tate Modern’s new building for the exclusion of works by Ana Mendieta.

Painter Françoise Gilot—now 94 years old—discusses her past with Picasso, her career, and her attempts to buy back her paintings.

Juxtapoz features Brooklyn-based photographer Janelle Jones’s vibrant, candy-colored still-lifes.

Chinese artist Cao Fei is the youngest artist ever selected to create a BMW Art Car.

Yayoi Kusama–In Infinity is the first exhibition to highlight the Japanese artist’s interest in fashion and design.

Artforum shares “A Feminist Guide to Surviving the Art World,” highlighting works by prominent feminist artists.

For her “social sculpture” project, Percent for Green, Alicia Grullón conducts environmental justice workshops, providing a proposal for legislation.

Andra Ursuta’s Alps sculpture resembles a climbing wall—but with penis-shaped holds.

Mika Tajima’s temporary public art project is a hot pink hot tub that releases “techni-color clouds.”

Multidisciplinary artist Ciriza’s work “evokes the slow shedding of human hair and snake skin.”

Xiomara Reyes will become the new director of the Washington School of Ballet.

Teen thriller author Lois Duncan died at the age of 82.

The Atlantic explores how a short-lived 1908s spinoff series, She-Ra, offered an alternative to the male-dominated cartoon world.

Comedian Tig Notaro released her memoir, I’m Just A Person.

The Guardian interviews “punk-poet genius” Patti Smith.

The New Yorker writes that rocker Mitski Miyawaki’s lyrics “invite close readings, examinations that reveal submerged meanings.”

The Los Angeles Times raves about two murals featured in Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life.

The Atlantic delves into the why Hollywood doesn’t tell more stories for and about girls.

AIGA explores design house Marimekko’s history of being “made for women and run by women”—and how 94% of its employees are women.

Shows We Want to See

Hyperallergic examines (left) and Georgia O'Keefe’s watercolors (right)

Hyperallergic examines Adriana Varejão’s portraits (left) and Georgia O’Keeffe’s watercolors (right)

In Kindred Spirits, Adriana Varejão encourages visitors to guess which portraits are images of native people and which are versions of modernist designs.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Far Wide Texas examines 51 watercolor paintings O’Keeffe made during her two years teaching in Texas.

Women of Abstract Expressionism at the Denver Art Museum aims to correct the history of the male-dominated art movement. Vogue and the Denver Post interviewed the exhibition’s curator.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum opens The Art of Romaine Brooks.

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