DC -- Penn Qtr -- Natl Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Ave NW):
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- Specific picture descriptions: Photos above with "i" icons next to the bracketed sequence numbers (e.g. " ") are described as follows:
- NMWA_180403_008.JPG: Yael Bartana
What If Women Rules the World, 2016
- NMWA_180403_017.JPG: May Stevens
SoHo Women Artists, 1978
Directly involved with the 1970s feminist art movement in New York, May Stevens created this contemporary version of an academic history painting.
Traditional western history paintings present scenes from classical or Christian history and typically exclude female figures. SoHo Women Artists is part of a series of historically-styled works that Stevens created to recognize women artists and call for the inclusion of women in art history, a cause catalyzed by the provocative 1971 ArtNews article entitled, "Why have there been no great women artists?"
Stevens's painting highlights her devotion to the collective work of the Heresies activist group that she helped found as well as her preference for narratives that resonate with her personally. "The stories are anecdotes about events. And they're selected because they mean something to me," she notes.
Stevens composed this work from photographs of friends who helped shape the feminist art revolution from their New York City neighborhood. Arranged in a frieze-like composition are (left to right): Signora d'Apolito, owner of a bakery; two men from SoHo's Italian-American community; May Stevens; fellow Heresies artists Harmony Hammond, Joyce Kozloff (sitting with her son Nikolas), and Marty Pottenger; artist Louise Bourgeois, in one of her wearable sculptures; artist Miriam Schapiro and critic Lucy Lippard, also Heresies members; and artist Sarah Charlesworth.
- NMWA_180403_023.JPG: Herstory
- NMWA_180403_027.JPG: Sarah Bernhardt
Apres la tempete (After the Storm), ca 1876
Après la tempête (After the Storm) depicts a Breton peasant woman cradling the body of her grandson who had been caught in a fisherman's nets. Sarah Bernhardt had seen this woman on the seashore and was moved by her story, which ended tragically with the death of the child. But in Bernhardt's sculpture the child's right hand grips the woman's garment, perhaps suggesting the possibility of a more hopeful ending.
The artist allegedly took anatomy lessons specifically to convey the intensity of the subject. Her ability to render textures from smooth skin to rough nets adds to the naturalism of the piece. Bernhardt's arrangement of the figures suggests her knowledge of works, such as Michelangelo's Pieta, in which the Virgin Mary supports the dead Christ on her lap.
When the large original plaster cast for this work was exhibited at the Salon in 1876, it won a silver medal. Two years later, the artist sold the rights to reproduce Après la tempête to the dealer Henri Gambard, who appears to have commissioned very few duplicates. The sculpture in NMWA's collection seems to be unique and may in fact be the one that was sold in the artist's estate sale in 1923, as no other marble versions are documented.
- NMWA_180403_036.JPG: Amy Sheralnd
They call me Redbone but I'd rather be Strawberry Shortcake, 2009
Like most contemporary theorists, painter Amy Sherald perceives racial identity as a performance in response to external forces rather than an essential attribute. As one of just a few Black children in her private school in Georgia, she recalls being highly conscious of how she spoke and dressed, believing these behaviors were the key to social acceptance and assimilation. They Call Me Redbone but I'd Rather Be Strawberry Shortcake alludes to racial labeling directly, as the slang term "redbone" typically refers to a Black woman with a light skin tone.
Sherald modifies historical portrait formats to upend the dominant narrative of African American history. She notes: "I create playful yet sober portraits of Black Americans within an imaginative history where I do Black my way, in the European tradition of painted portraiture." While historical portraitists aimed to reveal a sitter's social standing or some essence of character, Sherald's haunting figures are expressionless and dressed in unusual, costume-style clothing that she has collected.
Typical of Sherald's art, the young woman in They Call Me Redbone but I'd Rather Be Strawberry Shortcake appears to float against an intensely colored background, which enhances the work's dreamy quality. The artist achieves this effect by limiting her use shadow along the figure's contours. Here as in other works, Sherald disrupts viewers' readings of her portrait subjects as Black by painting their skin in grayscale, metaphorically removing their "color."
- NMWA_180403_046.JPG: Amy Sherald
It Made Sense... Mostly In Her Mind, 2011
- NMWA_180403_053.JPG: Jane Hammond
Wonderful You, 1995
- NMWA_180403_070.JPG: Berthe Morisot
Couture pres de la fenetre (Sewing near the window), 1885
- NMWA_180403_084.JPG: Louise Bourgeois
Spider III, 1995
- NMWA_180403_094.JPG: Magdalena Abakanowicz
4 Seated Figures, 2002
Magdalena Abakanowicz's 4 Seated Figures blends her personal memories with her broader vision of a modern world shaped by war and political upheaval. Both headless and handless, these figures reflect the artist's direct experience -- she witnessed her mother being shot in the hands as soldiers stormed their home in Poland during World War II. Abakanowicz noted, however, that the figures are genderless and do not suggest any particular race: "They are naked, exposed, and vulnerable, just as we all are."
Abakanowicz was a leader in the international fiber-art movement that began in the 1960s. She became renowned for her innovative, off-loom sculptural techniques using rope, burlap, string, or cotton gauze. Abakanowicz created 4 Seated Figures from plaster molds of human models she had made in the late 1970s. Pressing burlap soaked with resin and glue into the molds, she shaped each figure individually. With a texture resembling tree bark, they appear to have been stripped of skin, revealing muscles, arteries, or cords suggestive of the nervous system.
- NMWA_180403_103.JPG: Body Language
- NMWA_180403_106.JPG: Rose Wylie
Lords and Ladies, 2006
- NMWA_180403_112.JPG: Domestic Affairs
- NMWA_180403_118.JPG: Tanja Rector
- NMWA_180403_129.JPG: Robin Kahn
Victoria's Secret, 1995
- NMWA_180403_135.JPG: Jiha Moon
- NMWA_180403_141.JPG: Natural Woman
- NMWA_180403_147.JPG: Clara Saldarriaga
Escarabajo Goliath (Goliathus cacicus), 1999
- NMWA_180403_157.JPG: Julie Roberts
Father of Evolution: The Old Story of Charles Darwin, 1998
- NMWA_180403_162.JPG: Kiki Kogelnik
Kiki Kogelnik's paintings from the 1970s, including Superwoman, engaged with feminist perspectives on the representation of women's bodies. In particular, she addressed the body's ubiquity in advertising.
With characteristic deadpan humor, Kogelnik drew her figures in an imposing, larger-than-life scale. The hard-edged outline of Superwoman against a monochrome background makes her appear powerful yet two-dimensional, akin to a cartoon or comic book character.
The X shape formed by the open scissors echoes the woman's confrontational pose. Kogelnik often rendered her figures with unsmiling faces and hollow eye sockets or dark sunglasses, making them appear somewhat fearsome.
Superwoman is likely a self-portrait. Kogelnik often wore flamboyant clothing, including aviator caps and large sunglasses such as those sported by the figure in this painting. A slightly earlier self-portrait by Kogelnik is nearly identical in composition to Superwoman. That print shows the artist holding scissors and straddling a stack of cut-outs.
Kogelnik often used scissors in her art to create stencils and vinyl silhouettes. Images of the artist holding scissors allude to her own power to manipulate figures and images by literally cutting them out.
- NMWA_181205_006.JPG: Yumi Hogan
Untitled 2, 2009
- NMWA_181205_017.JPG: Janaina Tschape
Selections from the series "100 Little Deaths," 1996-2002
- NMWA_181205_026.JPG: Suzanne Valadon
Nude Arranging Her Hair, ca 1916
Suzanne Valadon painted female nudes throughout her career and was one of only a few women artists take up this imagery during the first half of the 20th century. Valadon's nude subjects also included self-portraits and men -- both even more shocking subjects for a woman to paint. Her portrayals are un-idealized and frank depictions of the human body that do not overly eroticize the subjects or cater to the vanity of the sitter.
Nude Arranging Her Hair is characteristic of Valadon's nudes, whom she frequently portrayed in the midst of mundane, daily activities. The heavy, undulating outline of objects as well as in the unblended strokes of paint are typical of the artist's style. Unexpected colors, like green, appear in the flesh tones that echo the greens in the carpet and curtain in the background. Valadon situated her model squarely in the center of the composition where she stands upon a pile of white fabric, perhaps discarded clothing. Valadon often used white, contoured with blue, in her works as a neutral element to set off the values of the surrounding hues.
She executed this painting during World War I, and it likely depicts a woman named Gaby, who worked as a housekeeper for Valadon at the time. The artist typically used friends, family, and acquaintances as her models.
- NMWA_181205_032.JPG: Remedios Varo
La Llamada (The Call), 1961
Like many figures in Remedios Varo's paintings, the subject of The Call (1961) projects a sense of solemn preoccupation, as though in the midst of a momentous adventure. Wearing flowing robes and carrying alchemical tools, including a mortar and pestle at her collar, she traverses a sort of courtyard. Her hair forms a brilliant swirl of light, which seems to bring her energy from a celestial source.
This work reflects Varo's characteristic color palette -- the central figure, illuminated in fiery orange-gold tones, walks through shadowy, more muted surroundings. Precise lines reveal unexpected details, such as walls that appear to entomb figures in tree bark.
Varo's own features, particularly her large eyes and long, straight nose, often appear in the faces of her protagonists, emphasizing the importance she placed on her perspective as a woman. However, as in The Call, her works do not feature direct self-portraits. The figures are frequently androgynous or not-quite-human alter-egos, with witty and delicate features of fauna or otherworldly creatures.
Varo created this work near the end of her life, while living in Mexico and growing in artistic reputation. It reflects her Surrealist influences and her interests -- she dabbled in alchemical experiments -- as well as her talent for evoking ambiguous narratives through art.
- NMWA_181205_048.JPG: Lois Mailou Jones
Arreau, Hautes-Pyrenees, 1949
- NMWA_181205_060.JPG: Alice Bailly
Aside from the figure's three-quarter-turn pose, this painting presents an avant-garde version of the traditional artist's self-portrait. Through her training and travels, Alice Bailly became attuned to many vital European art movements of the early 20th century. Her apartment in Geneva was a popular meeting place for artists, poets, and musicians, but she did not identify with any particular movement. Her painting style is an amalgam of many approaches.
Her self-portrait's red, orange, and blue hues echo the palette of Fauve paintings. (In 1906, when she entered a canvas depicting a mother and child in Paris's Salon d'Automne, organizers hung it in the Fauve section.) The arching lines forming her hands and arms echo Italian Futurist art.
Bailly embraced the insouciance of Dada in this portrait by carefully delineating her breasts, the buttons of her jacket, and her signature bob haircut while painting out the entire right side of her face. As she did with her contemporaneous stitched-wool works, Bailly painted intuitively and additively. She paired dissonant colors, conjoined geometric and organic shapes, and juxtaposed cleanly outlined forms with choppily brushed passages of paint to form highly dynamic images.
- NMWA_181205_073.JPG: Elisabeth Louis Vigee-Lebrun
Portrait of Princess Belozersky, 1798
- NMWA_181205_091.JPG: Judith Leyster
The Concert, ca 1633
Along with tavern scenes and intimate domestic genre pieces, Judith Leyster frequently painted musical performance scenes. In The Concert, Leyster accurately depicts elements such as the Baroque violin (made without a chin rest and usually supported against the chest), as well as the woman's songbook.
The figures shown here are likely portraits. Based on similar individuals in Leyster's other pictures, scholars have tentatively identified the singer as the artist herself, the violinist as her husband, and the lute player as a family friend. The members of the trio, like all musicians, must work together as a unit, "in concert," which has led some writers to theorize that this scene symbolizes the virtue of harmony.
Leyster frequently placed her subjects against a plain, monochromatic background. Thus, nothing distracted from the figures, who are all shown in the midst of various actions (bowing or plucking strings and beating time). The deep angle at which the lute is held adds depth to the composition. The varied directions of the musicians' gazes offer the viewer different focal points.
- NMWA_181205_099.JPG: The Collection
- NMWA_181205_102.JPG: Nikki S. Lee
The Swingers Project (29), 1998
- NMWA_181205_109.JPG: Welcome to the Museum
- NMWA_181205_135.JPG: Angelica Kauffman
The Family of the Earl of Gower, 1772
The Family of the Earl Gower demonstrates Angelica Kauffman's ability to render complex, multi-figure compositions. It also illustrates her frequent inclusion of classicizing elements in contemporary scenes.
Granville Leveson-Gower (1721–1803), known as Viscount Trentham, the Earl Gower, and the first Marquess of Stafford, was a British politician. Kauffman depicts him as the patriarch of his large family, which has gathered in a park-like setting. The lyrical costumes, lyre, scroll, floral garlands, and marble bust, which bears a slight resemblance to the earl, all reference classical antiquity.
The Neoclassical composition forms an implied triangle that begins at the far right with Lady Susannah, the earl's third wife. Our eyes travel left to the daughter in the rose-colored tunic at the apex of the triangle and downward to the daughter seated beside the bust, forming the triangle's third corner.
The earl's son and heir, 14-year-old George Leveson-Gower, eventually the first Duke of Sutherland, carries a book to signal his erudition. The three youngest daughters form their own vignette, seemingly focused on the rites of spring and perhaps fertility and birth (Lady Susannah was pregnant in 1772), symbolized by the lamb.
- NMWA_181205_144.JPG: Florence Knoll Bench
- Wikipedia Description: National Museum of Women in the Arts
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), located in Washington, D.C. is the only museum solely dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements in the visual, performing, and literary arts. NMWA was incorporated in 1981 by Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay. Since opening its doors in 1987, the museum has acquired a collection of more than 3,500 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and decorative art.
While traveling abroad, Mr. and Mrs. Holladay admired a 17th-century still-life by Flemish painter Clara Peeters. The Holladays later sought information on Peeters, yet the definitive college art history text (H.W. Janson’s History of Art) failed to include Peeters, or any other female artist. The Holladays then decided to make works by women the basis for their art collection, which later would become the core of NMWA’s permanent collection.
In 1983, NMWA purchased a landmark 78,810 sq ft (7322 m²) former Masonic temple to house its works. Initially drafted by architect Waddy B. Wood, the main building was completed in 1908 and the original structure is on the D.C. Inventory List of Historic Sites as well as the National Register of Historic Places. After extensive renovations, the museum opened to the public April 7, 1987. The Elizabeth A. Kasser Wing opened November 8, 1997 making the entire facility 84,110 sq ft (7814 m²).
Wilhelmina Cole Holladay:
Wilhelmina Cole Holladay is the founder and chair of the Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Since her discovery that women artists have historically been omitted from collegiate art history texts, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay has made it her mission to bring to the forefront the accomplishments of women through collecting, exhibiting and researching women artists of all nationalities and time periods.
Holladay created individual committees of over 1,000 volunteers from 27 states and 7 countries, to give educational opportunities to children through collaborations with schools and other community groups (e.g. Girl Scouts of the USA), as well as provided opportunities for adults to participate and encourage art in local communities across the globe.
Wilhelmina Cole Holladay’s interest in art was sparked as a student at Elmira College in New York, where she studied art history, followed by graduate work at the University of Paris. She is listed in Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in the World, and she holds many honorary degrees and achievement awards for her work in the arts community. In 2006 she received the National Medal of Arts from the United States and the Légion d'honneur from the French government. In 2007 Holladay received the Gold Medal for the Arts from the National Arts Club in New York City.
Collection and exhibitions:
Beginning in 1987 with American Women Artists, 1830-1930, NMWA has presented more than 200 exhibitions which include: Julie Taymor: Playing With Fire: Nov. 16, 2000–Feb. 4, 2001, Grandma Moses in the 21st Century: March 15, 2001–June 10, 2001, Places of Their Own: Emily Carr, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Frida Kahlo: Feb. 8, 2002–May 12, 2002, An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum: Feb. 14, 2003–June 18, 2003, Nordic Cool: Hot Women Designers: Apr. 23, 2004–Sept. 12, 2004, Berthe Morisot: An Impressionist and Her Circle: Jan. 14, 2005–May 8, 2005, Alice Neel’s Women: Oct. 28, 2005–Jan. 15, 2006, Divine and Human: Women in Ancient Mexico and Peru: March 3, 2006–May 28, 2006, and Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women: June 30, 2006–Sept. 24, 2006.
The permanent collection currently contains works by nearly 1,000 artists. Among the earliest works is Lavinia Fontana’s Portrait of a Noblewoman, ca. 1580. Other artists represented include: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Louise Bourgeois, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Rosalba Carriera, Mary Cassatt, Elizabeth Catlett, Louisa Courtauld, Petah Coyne, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Elaine de Kooning, Lesley Dill, Helen Frankenthaler, Marguerite Gérard, Nan Goldin, Nancy Graves, Grace Hartigan, Frida Kahlo, Angelica Kauffman, Käthe Kollwitz, Lee Krasner, Marie Laurencin, Judith Leyster, Maria Martinez, Maria Sibylla Merian, Joan Mitchell, Gabriele Münter, Elizabeth Murray, Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Sarah Miriam Peale, Clara Peeters, Lilla Cabot Perry, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Rachel Ruysch, Elisabetta Sirani, Joan Snyder, Lilly Martin Spencer, Alma Thomas, Suzanne Valadon, Chakaia Booker, and Elisabeth Louisa Vigée-Lebrun.
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