NO MAN’S LAND: Painting or Sculpture?

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. Dianna Molzan, Tauba Auerbach, and Analia Saban blur the line between painting and sculpture through their experimental approaches to conventional materials and techniques.

Dianna Molzan, Untitled, 2010; Oil on canvas on fir; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Dianna Molzan, Untitled, 2010; Oil on canvas on fir; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

What’s On View?

Dianna Molzan’s untitled work, 2010

Dianna Molzan (b. 1972, Tacoma, Washington) says, “I’m definitely a painter. . . . But it’s fun to see how far I can push things.” Molzan uses traditional materials like canvas, wood, pigment, and brushes to create paintings that are often described as sculptural. Her restructured canvases highlight the “drama of presentation” while challenging conventions of painting.

Molzan’s investigations of painting defy expectations. One of her untitled works on view embraces three-dimensionality by revealing the wooden supports and gallery walls beneath unraveled canvas. The space itself becomes a part of her piece, while referencing the history of painting. In describing her smart and playful works, Molzan says, “I’ve likened them to paintings in drag. . . . I’m trying to do my best impersonation.”

Analia Saban’s Acrylic in Canvas, 2010

Analia Saban (b. 1980, Buenos Aires, Argentina) often blurs the line between mediums “in a way that deconstructs and re-visualizes the very process of art-making.”

Analia Sabain, Acrylic in Canvas, 2010; Acrylic in canvas bag; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Analia Sabain, Acrylic in Canvas, 2010; Acrylic in canvas bag; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Acrylic in Canvas consists of a canvas bag filled with vibrantly colored acrylic paint. Propped up against a wall, the work combines the traditional ingredients of painting in a new way that questions the medium’s boundaries. Saban sometimes describes her work as “the process of sculpture applied to a painting.”

Saban’s work complicates conventional ideas about painting. “Usually we think of painting on canvas,” she says. “It was interesting to think of painting as pigment on thread.”

With a playful title just one letter away from describing a traditional form of painting, Acrylic in Canvas reminds viewers how flexible borders between seemingly discrete categories can be.

Tauba Auerbach’s Slice II, 2012

Tauba Auerbach, Slice II, 2012; Woven canvas on wooden stretcher; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Tauba Auerbach, Slice II, 2012; Woven canvas on wooden stretcher; Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Slice II, by Tauba Auerbach (b. 1981, San Francisco, California), explores the boundaries between text and meaning, appearance and reality, and two and three dimensions.

Working in a wide range of mediums, Auerbach expresses interest in structure, technology, and binaries.

A woven canvas on a wooden stretcher, Slice II resembles a conventional abstract painting at first glance. However, the canvas is not painted, and her weaving process is more closely akin to a sculptural technique. Auerbach says these works have “a teeter-tottering quality: they oscillate between being flat surfaces and 3D objects.”

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

Reserve your spot to meet artist Analia Saban at NMWA on November 11, 2016 for a special in-gallery conversation.

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

Art Fix Friday: May 6, 2016

In the U.S. “only 27% of the 590 major solo shows organized by nearly 70 institutions between 2007 and 2013 were devoted to women.” The Art Newspaper outlines how influential donors, prizes for women, and diversifying museum leadership can help rectify the gender imbalance.

Helen Molesworth, the chief curator of MOCA, says that although the art world is progressive, “that doesn’t set us apart from the larger cultural forces at play, which have for the past several hundred years promoted the idea that genius and men and power and money are all very intertwined with one another.”

Front-Page Femmes

Marisol Escobar, known in the 1960s for her wooden Pop Art sculptures, died at the age of 85.

Adriana Varejão’s hand-painted tile mural covers Rio’s 2016 Summer Olympics aquatics stadium.

Tauba Auerbach makes a large, geometric pop-up book.

Mona Hatoum’s survey includes endoscopic video of her internal organs.

Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani was released from prison.

A fire at German artist Rosemarie Trockel’s home damaged and destroyed more than $30 million worth of art.

Cornelia Parker installed a Hitchcock-inspired barn on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Los Angeles Times traces 89-year-old artist Betye Saar‘s oeuvre through her recent and upcoming exhibitions.

Unnerving, surreal characters in Floria González’s photographs explore the impact of motherhood on her life.

Virginia-based teen Razan Elbaba uses photography to “break the stereotypes and significantly express the true goal of Muslim women.”

Art Basel visitors will help performance artist Alison Knowles toss a giant salad before it is served.

Heather Phillipson’s three-part installation for Frieze New York involves dog sculptures, video, trampolines, pillows and more.

The Guardian shares the @52museums Instagram project—highlighting one of NMWA’s posts.

“It’s so empowering for this generation to see a black ballerina doll that has muscles,” says Misty Copeland about the new Barbie made in her likeness.

NPR describes a new album by Anohni, formerly Antony Hegarty, as “a pop album that is simultaneously an act of dissent.”

Gabriela Burkhalter’s The Playground Project explores forgotten artistic playgrounds of the 20th century.

Sweet Lamb of Heaven, by Lydia Millet, is “an extraordinary metaphysical thriller.”

The New Yorker delves into two articles written by Harper Lee about the case that brought her to Kansas with Truman Capote.

The documentary Eva Hesse, structured around excerpts from her journals, provides a psychological portrait of the artist. Watch the trailer.

Shows We Want to See

Five women artists from the Electric Machete Studios collective locked themselves in their studio for 48 hours. The resulting works reflect the “complex identities of the women as feminists and artists.” Interventions: A Xicana & Boricua Guerrilla Perspective explores the relationship between art, feminism, and indigenous identity.

Abstract work by overlooked Victorian spiritualist Georgiana Houghton will be featured in London. The Guardian writes, “Houghton would host a seance, talk to her spirit guide and draw complex, colourful and layered watercolours.”

Carmen Herrera—now 101 years old—“distills painting to its purest elements.”

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