First Looks: NO MAN’S LAND

NMWA’s new contemporary exhibition NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection opened with a bang. On Thursday, September 29, NMWA members enjoyed a first look at the exhibition during Member Preview Day and the public celebrated with a special evening reception.

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Attendees study work by Kerstin Brätsch (left) and Karin Davie (right); Photo: Kevin Allen

NMWA presents a new vision of the exhibition, which opened in December 2015 at the Rubell Family Collection (RFC)’s 45,000-square-foot Miami facility. The new presentation features paintings and sculptures by 37 artists from 15 countries. Stemming from the 1970s feminist art movement, NO MAN’S LAND plays with images of the female body and the process of making, subverting the convention of handcraft as “women’s work” into a beautiful, visual conversation reclaiming the female form.

Rubell Family Collection Director Juan Roselione-Valadez

Rubell Family Collection Director Juan Roselione-Valadez leading a tour during the opening reception; Photo: Kevin Allen

The event brightened a rainy Thursday for all the attendees. Members gained early access to the exhibition through tours led by knowledgeable and engaging curatorial and education staff. Each thematic tour focused on different aspects of the collection. One member described the day as “an excellent experience that highlighted talented women and prompted important conversation.” During the day members received perks at the Mezzanine Café and in the Museum Shop, featuring the NO MAN’S LAND catalogue and the gag nutcracker that inspired artist Jennifer Rubell’s attention-grabbing Lysa III.

NMWA’s Great Hall: Photo: Kevin Allen

NMWA’s Great Hall; Photo: Kevin Allen

Evening reception attendees sported glow stick accessories and enjoyed Miami-inspired appetizers and drinks—including zesty mini tacos and a specialty mojito—while DJ Elodie Maillot energized the crowd. Collectors Don and Mera Rubell were also in attendance and chatted with guests about the works on view.

From Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno’s immersive work to Karin Davie’s large-scale optical illusion, the power and playfulness of NO MAN’S LAND captivated its premier audience. Guests left the museum with smiles and compliments, lamenting the evening’s end and vowing to “return again soon to study the exhibition further.”

Intrigued? Become a member today and take part in the next Member Preview Day! Check the online calendar for more information about upcoming gallery talks and programs. Visit NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, on view through January 8, 2017.

—Caroline Byrd is the fall 2016 membership intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

NO MAN’S LAND: Mesmerizing Motifs

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. Yayoi Kusama, Jennifer Guidi, and Anicka Yi construct contemplative works that invite viewers’ sustained attention.

Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY NETS (H10), 2000; Acrylic on canvas; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY NETS (H10), 2000; Acrylic on canvas; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

What’s On View?

Yayoi Kusama’s INFINITY NETS (H10), 2000

“My works are painful and at the same time playful,” says Yayoi Kusama, referring to the intensity and whimsy of her paintings. Since the 1950s, Kusama (b. 1929, Matsumoto, Japan) has created a multitude of hypnotic works that emphasize the negative spaces formed by dots or holes—earning her recognition as the “polka dot queen.” A self-described “obsessional artist,” Kusama is known for compulsively painting nets and dots. The artist, who has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital since 1975, often describes her work as an “expression of my life, particularly of my mental disease.”

Kusama plays with the paradoxical idea that infinity can be captured within the confines of a canvas. INFINITY NETS (H10) comprises a pink lattice of nets against an off-white background. The composition’s web of lines tighten toward the edges of the canvas, mesmerizing the viewer and prompting reflection.

Jennifer Guidi’s Untitled (TRF #3 Black, White and Red), 2015

Jennifer Guidi, Untitled (TRF #3 Black, White and Red), 2015; Oil on linen; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Jennifer Guidi, Untitled (TRF #3 Black, White and Red), 2015; Oil on linen; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Jennifer Guidi (b. 1972, Los Angeles) began her artistic career with realistic paintings influenced by the southern California landscape. Inspired by woven patterns, Guidi turned toward abstraction. “Growing up, my grandmother taught me how to sew, knit, and crochet. I still love the repetitive motion of hands making things,” she explains.

Individual dabs of paint in deliberate rows against a black background compose Untitled (TRF #3 Black, White and Red). Guidi seamlessly switches from white dots to crimson for the lower third of the canvas. The painting’s textured effect reveals Guidi’s interest in tapestries and the backs of rugs. The magnitude of the painting encourages visitors to view the work at a distance, while its stitch-like marks draw visitors in closely, prompting contemplation and meditation.

Anicka Yi’s Life Serves Up the Occasional Pink Unicorn, 2013

Tempura-fried flowers, resin, Plexiglas, stainless-steel shelves, and chrome-plated dumbbells make up Anicka Yi’s large-scale five-panel work.

Anicka Yi, Life Serves Up The Occasional Pink Unicorn, 2013; Tempura-fried flowers, resin, Plexiglas, stainless-steel shelves, and chrome-plated dumbbells; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Anicka Yi, Life Serves Up The Occasional Pink Unicorn, 2013; Tempura-fried flowers, resin, Plexiglas, stainless-steel shelves, and chrome-plated dumbbells; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Yi (b. 1971, Seoul) explores ideas of ephemerality and materiality. “I’m interested in connections between materials and materialism, states of perishability and their relationship to meaning and value, consumerist digestion and cultural metabolism,” she states. Yi works with biologists and chemists to help predict how particular materials will transform over time. Sensory elements are critical to Yi’s work, which often exude a fragrance. The tactile and olfactory qualities of her work make them uniquely engaging and thought-provoking.

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

—Casey Betts was the summer 2016 digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

NO MAN’S LAND: Provocative Portraiture

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. Paintings by Elizabeth Peyton, Celia Paul, and Rozeal combine personal and art-historical references.

What’s On View?

Elizabeth Peyton, Burkhard Riemschneider, 1995; Oil on board; (left) and Celia Paul, Self-Portrait August–September, 2014; Oil on canvas (right); Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Elizabeth Peyton, Burkhard Riemschneider, 1995; Oil on board; (left) and Celia Paul, Self-Portrait August–September, 2014; Oil on canvas (right); Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Elizabeth Peyton’s Burkhard Riemschneider, 1995

Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965, Danbury, Connecticut) paints friends, family, celebrities, and personal heroes. “There is no separation for me between people I know through their music of photos and someone I know personally,” she explains.

Peyton works with ideas surrounding celebrity culture, much like Andy Warhol—an artist to whom she is often compared. Her use of vibrant color and graphic style also recall the Pop artist, but unlike him, she does not accept commissions from her famous sitters. This portrait depicts the German gallerist who has represented Peyton since 1995. Like many of her male subjects, Riemschneider is shown with slightly feminine features, such as red lips and high cheekbones.

Celia Paul’s Self-Portrait August–September, 2014

“My work has always been autobiographical,” says Celia Paul (b. 1959, Trivandrum, India), who, like Peyton, paints only people close to her. She almost solely depicts women—most often her sisters, her mother, and herself. Her color palette is strikingly somber, relying heavily on brown and gray, which she sees as “true to the colors of London.” Paul credits her use of color to fellow artist and former lover Lucian Freud.

Self-Portrait is exemplary of Paul’s signature style, featuring rapid yet controlled brushstrokes, an elongated figure, and an unembellished background that offers little sense of time or place. The impression of mystery and darkness is compounded by the artist’s expressionless face.

Rozeal’s Sacrifice #2: It Has to Last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era”), 2007

Rozeal, Sacrifice #2: It Has to Last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era”), 2007; Enamel, acrylic, and paper on panel; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Rozeal, Sacrifice #2: It Has to Last (after Yoshitoshi’s “Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era”), 2007; Enamel, acrylic, and paper on panel; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

The intersection of contemporary hip hop culture and traditional Japanese ukiyo-e printmaking is the basis for Rozeal’s painting. When the artist (b. 1966, Washington, D.C.) heard about ganguro, a Japanese movement among young girls in the 1990s who darkened their skin and dressed as their favorite hip-hop stars, she was both fascinated and angered. The discovery of ganguro, which translates as “blackface,” propelled Rozeal to explore issues of race, gender, and class in her work.

Sacrifice #3 is based on an 1888 woodblock print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi that depicts a courtesan. Though she assumes a similar pose, Rozeal’s subject has darker skin, long acrylic nails, and full lips. Sacrifice #3 works to expose the stylistic appropriation of African American culture.

Reserve a spot to meet artist Rozeal at NMWA on October 18, 2016 for a special in-gallery conversation. Visit the museum and explore NO MAN’S LAND, on view through January 8, 2017.

—Casey Betts was the summer 2016 digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Opening This Friday: NO MAN’S LAND

Large-scale paintings and sculptural hybrids reveal the expressive range of women artists in NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, on view from September 30, 2016, to January 8, 2017.

Isa Genzken, Schauspieler, 2013; Mixed media, 72 1/4 x 18 1/2 x 10 1/2 in.

Isa Genzken, Schauspieler, 2013; Mixed media, 72 1/4 x 18 1/2 x 10 1/2 in.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is collaborating with the Rubell Family Collection (RFC), Miami, to realize a new vision for the exhibition that opened at the RFC’s space in December 2015. The exhibition features 37 women artists whose aesthetically diverse work addresses wide-ranging intellectual and political themes. Although women historically had limited access to training and opportunity in the traditional fields of sculpture and painting, the title of the exhibition suggests “a space free from the rule of any sovereign power” where women artists are able to adapt and modify these mediums.

The highly focused selection of paintings and sculptures emphasizes the female body and the physical process of art-making. Ever since the feminist art movement of the 1960s and ’70s, these two themes have become prevalent avenues for experimentation, play, and subversion.

Mickalene Thomas, Whatever You Want, 2004; Acrylic, rhinestone, and enamel on panel, 48 x 36 in.

Mickalene Thomas, Whatever You Want, 2004; Acrylic, rhinestone, and enamel on panel, 48 x 36 in.

During the feminist art movement, women artists claimed ownership over visualization of the body. Artists in NO MAN’S LAND explore this history and experiment with the expressive potential of the female form. Some artists, including Cecily Brown and Mickalene Thomas, adapt the art-historical theme of the odalisque by transforming its typically passive character. Others such as Hayv Kahraman use portraiture as a space for self-expression. Many of the works on view signify broader ideas about culture, gender, and ethnicity.

For artists in NO MAN’S LAND, the physical process of making is key to developing meaning, exploring intellectual conundrums, and conjuring psychological experiences. Painters and sculptors eliminate hierarchies among mediums by disrupting conventional ideas about women and handcraft. Historically defined as “women’s work,” handcraft remains a gendered topic in art. Artists including Analia Saban, Rosemarie Trockel, and Shinique Smith focus on unconventional materials or labor-intensive techniques. They upend tradition to suit their aesthetic and intellectual purposes.

Visit the exhibition before the public during the opening reception on September 29, 2016. See the full calendar of events for NO MAN’S LAND.

—Francisca Rudolph is the fall 2016 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.