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.

Art Fix Friday: August 19, 2016

Nan Goldin asks, “I’m not responsible for anything like social media, am I? Tell me I’m not.”

The New York Times draws parallels between Goldin’s signature work, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, and the current culture of image sharing.

Front-Page Femmes

Hyperallergic writes, “We should all be inspired by Alma Thomas’s optimism.”

Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture garden in Tuscany contains 22 “massive, globular forms of divine goddesses and strange beasts.”

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, will travel to four additional museums in North America. The Art Newspaper and artnet share the excitement.

Colombian sculptor Doris Salcedo tours Bogotá and her studio for the Guardian.

Polixeni Papapetrou uses flowers from a cemetery to explore themes of mourning and remembrance.

The Brooklyn Museum will celebrate the tenth anniversary of its Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

The Art Newspaper explores Shirin Neshat’s two new video works.

Artsy profiles the Neo Naturists, a “body-painting trio of female flashers” that started an underground art movement in the 1980s.

The Huffington Post shares a list of ten exceptional women photographers.

In LACMA’s new video series, Catherine Opie discusses a painting by Thomas Eakins in the museum’s collection.

Alexandra Berg’s pencil drawings “would fool anyone into thinking they were black and white photographs.”

A new solo exhibition presents three recent bodies of work by Barbara Kasten.

Photographer Lisa Minogue creates stylized portraits of Australian women of color by using vibrant face paint.

In her “Reading Women” series, Carrie Schneider photographs and films women artists reading works by their favorite women authors.

artnet shares five interesting facts about Italian artist and activist Tina Modotti (1896–1942) on the anniversary of her birth.

A rare letter by pioneering travel writer Mary Wortley Montagu goes up for sale.

Lisa Hannigan’s latest album “sneaks up and envelops listeners in cocoons of sound.”

The Guardian discusses revolutionary Australian feminist films of the ’90s.

After her directorial debut, Natalie Portman discusses the status of female directors in Hollywood.

Hyperallergic delves into Chantal Akerman’s 1975 film, Je tu il elle.

Shows We Want to See

Paola Pivi: Ma’am at Dallas Contemporary features Italian artist Paula Pivi’s “multicolored polar bears, an upside down plane, a giant inflatable ladder, and a film of live goldfish on an airplane.”

NPR finds “a brave sense of modernity and freedom” in The Art of Romaine Brooks at Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Eau de Cologne at Sprüth Magers gallery presents works by Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Rosemarie Trockel, and Louise Lawler. The exhibition is “rooted in an appreciation for these women who are rare in the field of contemporary art: strident and singular and commercially successful.”

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

Art Fix Friday: May 27, 2016

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama tells the Guardian about her childhood, a letter from Georgia O’Keeffe, and that she thinks “[pumpkins] are the most humorous of vegetables.”

artnet shares a sneak-peek at Yayoi Kusama’s new works at London’s Victoria Miro Gallery, involving paintings, pumpkin sculptures, and mirror rooms.

Front-Page Femmes

FBI Special Agent Meridith Savona tells ARTnews about her career investigating art crimes.

Hollow, an installation by Katie Paterson uses samples of wood from 10,000 different trees collected by the artist over three years.

“I am fighting photography with photography,” says Ayana Jackson. In her work, Jackson explores how photography shaped the narratives of African-Americans and Africans.

Cindy Sherman’s new photographs take inspiration from 1920s-era film stars.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico purchased a rarely seen abstract O’Keeffe painting titled The Barns, Lake George (1926) for $3.3 million.

“The virtual is compelling because it mixes the artificial with an unpredictable sense of the real,” says Claudia Hart about her 3D simulations.

Mexican conceptual artist Minerva Cuevas’s site-specific interventions address social and political concerns.

“I’m inspired by errors,” says 78-year-old Hungarian artist Dora Mauer in an interview with the Telegraph.

The Art Newspaper profiles several of China’s rising female artists—who are still overwhelmingly outnumbered by their male contemporaries.

Elaine Reichek embroiders expressive tableaus inspired by ancient Greek mythology.


The Huffington Post shares Olek’s recent work

Olek re-creates a massive, crocheted front page of The New York Times to drape over the facade of the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Guardian charts illustrator and journalist Molly Crabapple’s path toward sketching in Guantánamo Bay and publishing her memoir, Drawing Blood.

Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing, “shows the unmistakable touch of a gifted writer.”

A new book by Anna Beer profiles women composers dating back to the 17th century.

Candice Hoyes’s debut jazz album showcases the singer’s “operatic voice and soulful style.”

Design critic Alice Rawsthorn discusses why some of the greatest designers tend to be outsiders.

San Juan-based artist and educator Beatriz Santiago Muñoz creates films about the Caribbean’s colonial past that are “half-documentary and half-fantasy.”

Shows We Want to See

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann uses acrylic paint, Sumi ink, and collage on enormous sheets of paper to create works that result in a “precarious balance of harmony and clangor.”

Mami features works by women artists of African descent, revolving around Mami Wata—the water spirit revered in West, Central, and Southern Africa, and the African diaspora.

Los Angeles-based artist Nicole Miller investigates the landscapes of marginalized communities through the lens of socioeconomic status, race, and gender in Every Word Said: History Lessons from Athens and Tucson.

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

Art Fix Friday: September 25, 2015

The 2015 Emmy Awards were the most inclusive yet for women. Bustle notes, “Although Hollywood has never been the best when it comes to the representation of women, recent years have marked some real change.”

  • Fifteen of the 18 Leading Actress nominees in comedy, drama, and mini-series were women over the age of 35.
  • Allison Janney won her seventh Emmy, tying her for most performance Emmy wins.
  • Amy Schumer won for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.
  • Red carpet interviewers #AskHerMore, focusing on women’s careers over looks.
  • Viola Davis became the first black woman to win for Best Actress in the drama category.

Front-Page Femmes

Hyperallergic investigates Jackie Saccoccio’s massive paintings “dominated by drips and spatters and networks of bleeding color.”

“It’s the language of Pop telling another story: the story of politics, feminism,” says the Tate Modern’s director about The World Goes Pop.

The Walker Art Center shares 11 Guerrilla Girls posters.

The Huffington Post shares a comedic cartoon featuring Frida Kahlo.

ARTINFO continues to share its list of the 25 most collectible midcareer artists with sonic and visual artist Jennie C. Jones.

The Gallery Weekend Budapest festival of Hungarian contemporary art mostly featured work by women artists.

Hyperallergic reviews a new book and exhibition based around Mary Ellen Mark’s documentary photographs. Mark’s photos “tell a larger story about individuals facing adversity in its myriad forms—poverty, natural disaster, family dysfunction, disability, and so on.”

A Los Angeles art gallery for women, trans, and queer artists, Heart of Art Gallery, was forced to shut down due to harassment and threats.

Self-taught artist Noell Osvald creates bold works through simple gestures performed in black and white.

Brands are selecting more female athletes for endorsement deals.

Artistic directors for ballet troupes are mostly men.

Feminist punk band Hemlines released its first official EP, All Your Homes, today.

Gaia Vince won the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books in 2015—as the first woman to win the prize in its 28-year history. The Guardian discusses why women don’t win science book prizes.

The New Yorker explores the work of crime writer Vera Caspary.

Shows We Want to See

“Countless female artists have been ignored, forgotten, and stepped on.” Hyperallergic announces that the Denver Art Museum (DAM) will host an exhibition of works by 12 women Abstract Expressionists opening in June 2016.

SculptureCenter in Long Island City features projects exclusively by women artists in 2016—an unintentional effect of the museum’s goal to “show work that has merit and doesn’t have enough attention, and that happens to be more true for women than men because they don’t get a lot of visibility in the art world.”

A new retrospective of Yayoi Kusama’s six-decade-long career includes early works that have never been exhibited.

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

Art Fix Friday: June 5, 2015

In celebration of the 500th post on the Broad Strokes blog, the museum is launching a new weekly blog series that pulls together recent art news highlights and takes the pulse of women in the arts.

The June 2015 issue of ARTnews is dedicated to women in the art world.

In the central article, Maura Reilly measures the progress and inequities of women’s representation in museums, exhibitions, press, and the art market:

  • In the last ten years, there has been a 10.6% increase in women-led museums, although mostly in museums with smaller budgets.
  • The highest price paid for a work by a living woman artist is $7.1 million for a Yayoi Kusama painting, whereas the highest result for a living man is an editioned sculpture by Jeff Koons for $58.4 million.

Front-Page Femmes

In their annual list of the 100 most powerful women in the world, Forbes did not include any artists or art world professionals.

An analysis of six major literary awards shows that novels about women are less likely to win. Research found that zero women writing female-centric works have won the Pulitzer Prize in the last 15 years.

The Financial Times reports that only 22% of people working in the games industry are women, although women make up almost half of players. Recent mentoring initiatives are intended to help close this gap.

In the New Yorker, Anwen Crawford explores the need for female rock critics. Not placed on the same pedestal as male rock critics, women writers are more often viewed as groupies. Crawford describes, “Groupies have proved an enduring stereotype of women’s participation in rock: worshipful, gorgeous, and despised.”

Shows We Want to See

Lynda Benglis’s gargantuan Water Sources sculptures take over Storm King Art Center. Visit the Huffington Post for some amazing photography.

A solo exhibition of Iranian-born artist Shirin Neshat prompts discussions of Islam and gender issues at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Japan Times writer Alice Gordenker covers two exhibitions in Japan featuring historical works by lesser-known Japanese women artists.

For more facts and figures about women in the art world, visit the Advocate section of the museum’s website. Check back for future installments of Art Fix Friday!

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