December 18, 2010 - March 20, 2011
Wall panels for the exhibition
- Nina Bentley (b. 1939)
- Corporate Executive Wife's Service Award Bracelet II (Homage to Lorna
- Plated silver and chain
- Gift of Jennifer Bentley, 2001.32
- A long-term resident of Westport, Connecticut, Nina Bentley was raised
in New York. She graduated in 1962 from the University of Wisconsin, later
studying art at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and Chelsea Art School,
London. Married young, she moved around the world with her husband, then
an international banker. A mother of three, her view of life has been molded
by "a lifetime of changing roles -- wife, mother, copy writer, window
designer, art center director." Bentley is an inveterate collector
of "stuff," which she juxtaposes to make biting and humorous
statements about the human condition.
- Here twelve silver-plated teapots on a heavy industrial chain are displayed
on a white pedestal that mocks a jeweler's tray. The piece was inspired
by the well-publicized 1995 divorce of millionaires Lorna and Gary Wendt,
during which Mrs. Wendt chose to fight for her due. She later founded the
Equality in Marriage Institute. Bentley has commented, "Often the
one who holds the ladder her husband climbs is the corporate wife."
An acerbic critique of the institution of marriage, it reminds us that
even a level of economic ease does little to ensure gender equality.
- Isabel Bishop (1902-1988)
- Nude in Interior, 1947
- Oil and tempera on canvas
- Stephen B. Lawrence Fund, 1953.08
- Graduating from high school in Detroit at age fifteen, Isabel Bishop
traveled to New York to train as a commercial artist at the New York School
of Applied Design for Women. After two years there, she studied the fine
arts at the Art Students League, completing her studies in 1924. Bishop
moved into her first studio at Fourteenth Street and Union Square in lower
Manhattan in 1926, maintaining a studio there until 1984. Critical acclaim
came in the 1930s when she became know as one of the urban realists of
the Fourteenth Street School. Human figures are the essential facets of
her work -- people she observed daily in the square or models who posed
for her in the studio.
- Bishop, thoroughly aware of the objectification of the female nude
in the hands of many male artists, used the subject as a vehicle to investigate
the problem of aesthetic beauty in art and as a statement of her profoundly
humanist ideas. The nude's small size creates intimacy and draws the viewer
close, yet Bishop conveys a sense of monumentality and expressiveness in
the figure. Seeming to shift in space and merge in and out of softly toned
background layers, it is at once still yet mobile, an embodiment of the
human potential for change or growth -- an essential aspect of life itself.
- Christine Breslin (b. 1948)
- Bobby, 2000
- Gelatin silver print from Polaroid negative
- Gift of the artist, 2007.74
- Raised in New York City, Christine Breslin moved to the Hartford area
in the early 1970s. She earned a B.F.A. in photography from the University
of Connecticut in 1981 and an M.F.A. from the Hartford Art School, University
of Hartford, in 1995. Since then she has worked as a professional photographer,
practicing documentary and commercial photography, which often nourish
her socially engaged art projects. She is known for her portraits series
of particular age, gender, or social and ethnic groups. Her work counters
cultural stereotypes by emphasizing the personal qualities of her sitters.
- Bobby belongs to a series on adolescent boys that Breslin began
in the late 1990s. Moved by the growth, physical changes, and emotional
distancing of her son, she began documenting him and eight of his male
friends annually from early adolescence through high school. Bobby is a
complex investigation of the nebulous process of becoming adult. His display
of chains and tattoo demonstrate a committed and fashionable tie to his
new social group. He faces the camera in full innocence and trust, yet
his body closes in on itself, barricaded by the arm that crosses before
our eyes and keeps us from getting too close.
- Fidelia Bridges (1834-1923)
- Study of Ferns, 1864
- Oil on board
- Gift of Jean E. Taylor, 2009.32
- After being orphaned at age fifteen, in 1854 Fidelia Bridges moved
from Massachusetts to Brooklyn to work as a governess. In 1860 she began
studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Bridges worked from
her Philadelphia studio until touring Europe in 1867. Upon her return,
she moved back to New York where in 1874 she was elected an associate member
of the National Academy of Design. Bridges painted watercolors as
well as oils and, after 1875, supported herself by designing cards, calendars,
and gift books. In 1890 she moved to Canaan, Connecticut, where she remained
until her death.
- Landscapist William Trost Richards (1833-1905) was a life-long friend
of Bridges. Richards ascribed to the philosophies of English aesthetician
John Ruskin (1819-1900), who advocated direct and detailed examination
of the natural world. Bridges painted methodically from nature, often ten
hours a day and in remote areas, as seen here, countering the belief that
women lacked the mental and physical stamina to sustain outdoor work. Study
of Ferns is an intimate examination of forest ecology. The tender, growing
bark of the birch tree peels away, tree stumps and fallen limbs rot, and
richly variegated leaves decompose into shadowed moist earth, providing
sustenance for the stand of brilliantly lighted green ferns.
- Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)
- In the Omnibus, 1890-91
- Drypoint with color aquatint
- Lent by Lucy E. Cross, 1991.25T
- Raised a member of a prominent upper-middle-class family in western
Pennsylvania, Mary Cassatt studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy
of the Fine Arts from 1860 to 1862. She left America for Europe in 1865,
studying art in Paris, Rome, and Madrid for four years. After returning
briefly to the United States, she chose to live and work in France starting
in 1875. The only American artist to exhibit with the French Impressionists,
during the 1870s and 1880s she developed the themes for which she is known
today: women engaged in private domestic activities, attending the theatre,
and (her "trademark" subject) a mother and child.
- In the Omnibus is both a scene of everyday life and a commentary
on late nineteenth-century women's increasing entry into the public sphere.
A middle-class woman simultaneously upholds and transgresses society's
rules for her class and gender: she and her child are accompanied by a
servant/chaperone, but they are clearly outside the home, riding urban
public transportation with its conceivably dangerous mix of social classes
and genders. Cassatt's mother, by example, teaches her child that women
can cross culturally-proscribed boundaries for self-fulfillment. Inspired
by Japanese woodcuts, the innovative print is one of a series Cassatt created
about 1890 using drypoint and aquatint etching, resulting in finely expressive
lines and muted hues that resemble subtle watercolor washes.
- Kate Cheney Chappell (b. 1945)
- Explosion of Amphibian Deformities, 2006
- Monotype and graphite pencil
- Gift of the artist, 2008.12
- A native of the Hartford area, Kate Cheney Chappell was in her first
art exhibition at the age of fourteen. Upon her return from a year in Paris
in 1966, she married and moved to Maine where she and her husband founded
the environmentally responsible company Tom's of Maine. After raising five
children, Chappell graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern
Maine in 1983. A decade later, she built a studio on Monhegan Island,
where she returns yearly for lengthy stays. That natural environment is
her spiritual home.
- In 2006, Chappell was particularly concerned with "the loss of
many species that contribute to this fragile web we call life." Frogs
are not only diminishing in quantity and variety of species, but are developing
debilitating mutations. The three frogs illustrated in Chappell's print
have extra legs. The mutants move up through a chute in space toward a
hovering egg that contains other frogs whose semi-visible forms are larger,
fuller, and seemingly healthier. They appear to be returning to the womb
for healing. This work is Chappell's offering, the instincts of a mother,
to the earth in need of physical and spiritual restoration.
- Beatrice Cuming (1903-1974)
- Welders at Electric Boat Company, ca. 1944
- Oil on canvas
- Charles F. Smith Fund, 1972.01
- Born and raised in Brooklyn, Cuming graduated from the Pratt Institute
Art School in 1923. Between 1924 and 1933, she continued her studies in
Paris and New York, painting during trips to England and North Africa.
Cuming moved to New London, Connecticut, in 1934. She spent the rest of
her years as an artist there, painting and occasionally teaching art classes
from her studio or at public schools. Her subjects of choice were southeastern
Connecticut's streets and buildings, railroad yards and docks, power plants
and shipyards -- subjects she said were "beautiful, powerful, dramatic,
- Cuming worked as a guard for the Electric Boat Company in Groton for
three months in 1943. The job resulted in a commission from the company
to document the building of submarines; this painting is one of at least
six she created on the subject. Here, workers and machinery meld as a dynamic
whole. The welders' visors mask any sense of their identities, implying
they are not so much individuals as interchangeable parts of an inhuman
process. Yet Cuming heroizes the welders by heightening the dangers inherent
in their work: we track billowing smoke and sparks spraying through the
air to their origins, where the men's visors form illuminated backdrops
to the hazardous heating of metal.
- Lalla Essaydi (b. 1956)
- Converging Territories #12, 2003
- Charles F. Smith Fund, 2006.125
- Lalla Essaydi was born and raised in Morocco. She now lives in New
York City and as well as Marrakech. She received a B.F.A. from Tufts University
and an M.F.A. from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2003,
and. Living for twenty years in Saudi Arabia, four in France, and a decade
and a half in America has given her exposure to multiple dimensions of
women's lives in both Islamic and Western cultures. From 1990 to 1994 she
attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris followed by studies in
the United States. She received a B.F.A. from Tufts University in 1999,
concentrating on women and art, and an M.F.A. in painting and photography
from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2003. Her exhibition
career began soon after completion of her B.F.A., and she received her
first solo show in 2003. Since then she has been exhibiting widely, both
nationally and internationally, and Hherher art works ar now in almost
twenty museums. Essaydi now lives in New York City and Marrakech.
- Having lived for twenty years in Saudi Arabia, four in France, and
a decade and a half in America, she understands multiple dimensions of
women's lives in both Islamic and Western cultures. Considering the past
in painting and the present in the camera's view, Essaydi produces paintings,
photographs, videos, and film installations. The compositions of her photographs
are guided by her training in painting in their placement of cloth, bodies
and symbolic objects, all covered with calligraphic forms. Her purpose
is consistent-to establish a position from which a Muslim woman living
in the West can address both the gendered circumstances of her memories
of the past and her observations of contemporary cultural change.
- Helen Frankenthaler (b. 1928)
- Bronze Smoke, 1978
- Color lithograph
- Davidson & Leventhal Fund and Friends Purchase Fund, 1983.52
- Born and raised in New York City, Helen Frankenthaler was able to study
with important artists of the era such as Rufino Tamayo (1811-1991) and
Hans Hoffman (1880-1966). In 1949 she met critic Clement Greenberg, who
introduced her to the Abstract Expressionists. She soon began working on
the floor like Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), pouring and spilling paint
onto huge pieces of canvas, usually left unprimed. Unlike him, she used
thinned paint, which soaked through, staining the surface. This technique
anticipated the establishment of the Color Field painting movement of the
- Although oil and acrylic are Frankenthaler's primary media, she has
also worked extensively in printmaking. For this lithograph, she chose
light brown paper with barely noticeable hints of red and black. The ink
is absorbed into the paper, merging with it to create "accidents."
Her stain technique is employed in this work as well. Lightly-outlined
organic forms create the look of coffee-stains on the first layer of the
print. The second layer, noticeable by overlay, is comprised of broad vertical
brush strokes. Imperfections generate intricate details that are reminiscent
of a topographical map. Some sections look like wave marks on sandand,
most importantly, others look like smoke.
- Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934)
- Louise Grace, ca. 1919
- Sepia photograph
- Gift of Francine DuPlessix Gray, 2005.181
- Born Gertrude Stanton in Des Moines, Iowa, the artist married Eduard
Käsebier in 1873. Käsebier began her study of art after her three
children had started high school, training as a painter at the Pratt Institute
in Brooklyn from 1889 to 1893 and in France during the summers of 1893
and 1894. Shifting her focus to photography, she apprenticed to photographers
in Germany and Brooklyn before opening her own portrait studio on Fifth
Avenue in New York in 1897. In 1902 she became a founding member of the
Photo-Secession Group. Leading exponents of Pictorialism, they sought to
evoke photography's similarities to painting, using darkroom and in-camera
manipulations to produce soft tonal gradations and experimental light effects.
Käsebier worked until 1927, retiring from professional photography
at age seventy-five.
- Louise Grace was the daughter of a prominent New York City family that
made its wealth in international shipping. She epitomizes standards of
female grace and beauty with her upswept hair, slender form, and delicate
facial features. Käsebier's painterly tonal gradations and blurred
details reinforce the mood of quiet introspection, as Louise Grace reads,
intent and serious. Käsebier rejects centuries of portrait traditions
that associated men with mental acuity and women with emotion, nature,
and fertility. Louise Grace presents woman as intellectual being.
- Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)
- Toward Los Angeles, Calif., 1937
- Gelatin silver print
- Museum purchase, 2005.180
- Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, Lange worked part time at several photographic
portrait studios in New York from 1914 to 1916 and took a photography course
with Clarence H. White (1871-1925) at Columbia University in 1917. She
set up her own studio in San Francisco in 1918, and her thriving portrait
business supported her husband and three children until their divorce in
1935. Lange and her second husband, economist Paul Taylor, crossed the
nation from 1935 to 1944, documenting the lives of displaced and poverty-stricken
farm workers for several federal agencies. Considered a crippled "other"
because of a leg permanently malformed after an attack of polio at age
seven, Lange maintained that perception resulted in her unique insight
into the suffering of America's other outsiders -- the poor, the dispossessed,
and the unjustly interred.
- Integral to American identity is the belief that the United States
is a nation of people on the move: to seek fame or fortune, to shed one
identity for another, to live on one's own terms. Toward Los Angeles, Calif.
ironically exposes the often-cruel reality of that belief. The expansive
billboard's words evoke a pre-Great Depression era of prosperity and choice
unthinkable to the two migrant workers walking the road to Los Angeles
in search of work.
- Hung Liu (b. 1948)
- Relic 12, 2005
- Oil on canvas and lacquered wood
- Charles F. Smith Fund, 2007.99
- A citizen of Mao Zedong's China, Hung Liu finished high school in Beijing
at the start of the Cultural Revolution. Designated an intellectual, she
was sent for reeducation to the countryside, where she spent four years
working in the fields. By 1972 she qualified as a peasant and was thereby
allowed to enter college and eventually art school. Resistant to official
attitudes about art, she began the long process that brought her in 1984
to the University of California, San Diego, where she studied with Allan
Kaprow (1927-2006). Today, Liu is Professor of Art at Mills College in
- Liu's art revivifies women whose images she discovered in a cache of
pre-revolutionary photographs. Although fully clothed, the pose of the
female figure in this painting is reminiscent of Western reclining female
nudes, particularly Edouard Manet's (1832-1883) Olympia (1863; Musée
d'Orsay). Like Olympia, the woman in Liu's photograph was a courtesan.
Liu liberates the figure from her real-life circumstances, setting her
in a celestial garden. The central panel is symbolic. Red is the color
of celebration, used for weddings. In harsh contrast, its black character
translates as "slave." In the place of Manet's servant is a spectacular
blue butterfly, a Chinese symbol of love. Flowers, distributed across the
figure and the space she inhabits, are interspersed with circles -- symbols
of the universe that have become Liu's signature.
- Nancy Graves (1939-1995)
- Clash of Cultures, 1988
- Etching, aquatint, and drypoint on Fabriano Artistico
- Gift of the Nancy Graves Foundation, 2010.87
- A sculptor, painter, printmaker, and occasional filmmaker, Nancy Graves
was known for her focus on nature and history. Her personal aesthetic emerged
from a combination of childhood memories and the concepts of Abstract Expressionism
prevalent in her formative years. Her works represent an interchange between
the replication of nature and the formal values of abstract art.
- In Clash of Cultures, Graves highlights various figures from art history.
At the top left is a portrait of the Etruscan noblewoman Velia Velcha,
based on an ancient mural found in the Tomb of Orcus in Tarquinia, Italy.
According to Graves, the dragon next to her alludes to "medieval art
history" while the figure of Justice at the bottom right references
a twelfth-century mosaic in the church of San Marco in Venice. The pattern
in between was inspired by a contemporary design for electrical circuitry.
By combining historic and iconic images with modern designs, all depicted
in an abstract style, Graves questions contemporary aesthetics and the
influence of art history on contemporary art.
- Please note that Indicate, a sculpture by Nancy Graves, is also included
in this exhibition. It is located on the grounds of the Museum, but can
be viewed from the staircase landing.
- Constance Richardson (1905-2002)
- City of Detroit, 1943
- Oil on board
- Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1950.42
- Constance Richardson grew up in Indiana, and attended Vassar College
for two years before leaving to study painting at the Pennsylvania Academy
of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1925 to 1928. There she met Edgar
P. Richardson (1902-1985), who became her husband and a noted historian
of American art. She pursued her painting career while her husband's work
took them to Detroit, Delaware, and Philadelphia. Although best known today
for her landscapes and depictions of the cities and industrial sites of
the Midwest, she also painted portraits and scenes of everyday life.
- Detroit was a burgeoning metropolis when Richardson painted this scene.
The home of the American auto industry since the beginning of the twentieth
century, it was a leading manufacturing center during World War II. She
subtly documents a flourishing city with a rich heritage through finely
detailed renderings of the fabric of the city. The terracotta ornamentation,
high chimneystacks, and steep-pitched roofs of nineteenth-century brick
structures contrast with the geometric regularity of modern skyscrapers.
Human presence is reduced to a handful of figures and mundane elements
of modernity such as street signs are eliminated -- even cars, Detroit's
lifeblood, are noticeably absent in this pristine and stately view.
Esphyr Slobodkina (1908-2002)
- Abstraction with Red Circle, 1938
- Oil on canvas
- Olga H. Knoepke Fund, 1994.02
- Born in Siberia, Esphyr Slobodkina's early life was nomadic, moving
around Russia, then to Manchuria and, in the 1920s, to the United States
where she quickly adopted abstraction and became an active member of the
American Abstract Artists. Slobodkina is known for her work as a children's
book author and illustrator as well as for her painting and sculpture.
In 1991 she moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, and her famous book Caps
for Sale debuted as a musical at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of
Art. She also sponsored the Slobodkina-Urquhart Children's Reading Room
at the University of Hartford.
- The dynamic composition of this early painting is based on abstract
principles of design. Playing with black lines and multi-colored shapes
on a neutral ground, she produces a precarious asymmetry. Linear forms
of varying widths intersect and overlap rectangles, circles, triangles,
and oddly rounded planes. The lines and angles lead the viewer's eye across
the entire picture plane, ping-ponging from element to element until finally
settling in the central area between the green, yellow and red forms. Slobodkina
pushes and pulls the viewer back and forth in space, forcing them to size
up colors and forms and testing their ability to decipher
- Polly Thayer (1904-2006)
- Circles, ca. 1928
- Oil on canvas
- Gift of the artist, 1960.08
- Polly Thayer (née Ethel) studied painting with Philip Hale (1865-1931)
at Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts in the 1920s, pursuing further
training in New York, Provincetown, and Paris in the 1930s. Adept at academic
realism, Thayer garnered success quickly, with solo shows in Boston, New
York, and Philadelphia. She continued making art after her 1933 marriage
to a Boston lawyer and yachtsman and while raising two daughters born in
the early 1940s. With family responsibilities, however, she did not pursue
public acclaim as consistently as she had while a single woman. Her later
work focused less on the human figure and more on landscapes as well as
closely observed nature studies.
- Circles established Thayer as a major talent in America and won her
a prestigious Hallgarten Prize at the National Academy of Design in 1929.
The title likely comes from the overlapping circles of purple and lilac
that form the background, their roundness echoed in the nude female's contours,
the shape of the tiger's head, and the sweeping position of her robe --
all guiding the viewer's eye from one curvilinear form to the other. Thayer
created a sense of eroticism by juxtaposing textures so illusionistic they
seem almost tangible. She had been an international traveler since childhood
and the tiger rug may be an exotic element inspired by her travels to Africa
or Asia. Although the female nude lacks individuality since we are unable
to see her face, her expressive back engages viewers nonetheless and allows
them an intimate glimpse into this moment.
- Martha Walter (1875-1976)
- Immigrant from Checho Slovacia, ca. 1921-22
- Oil on board
- Gift of Howard H. Bristol, Jr., 1985.47
- Martha Walter, born and raised in Philadelphia, attended the Pennsylvania
Academy of the Fine Arts before spending the summers of 1899 and 1900 painting
outdoors at William Merritt Chase's (1849-1916) Shinnecock Art School on
Long Island. She continued her training with studies and travel in France,
the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy from 1903 to 1914. Best known for her
plein-air scenes, Walter worked in the United States and abroad for several
decades; she taught in both New York and Brittany and exhibited frequently
in Paris, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. She painted almost until
her death at age one hundred.
- Immigrant from Checho Slovacia is one of a series of paintings Walter
created based on weekly visits to Ellis Island about 1921-22. She concentrated
on immigrant families in "Detention Hall," where those with suspected
illnesses were confined until allowed into the U.S. or returned to their
homelands. The young mother may have pricked her finger to add ruddy color
to their cheeks, reassuring both the viewer and authorities of their good
health. Painted during a time of rising anti-immigration sentiment in the
United States, this mother and child are notably "Other," the
conspicuously "foreign" shawl and babushka signifying their Eastern
European ethnicity. Walter's vigorous brushwork and vibrant color captures
the pair's energy, character, and beauty: they are America's vital future;
they must be allowed to stay.
- Negar Ahkami (b. 1971)
- Backsplash, 2010
- Acrylic, gesso, and glitter on wood panel
- Charles F. Smith Fund, 2010.84
- Backsplash shows a melting New York cityscape in the shape of a mosque.
The geometric, calligraphic, and floral patterning, as well as the many
shades of blue, brings to mind beautifully decorated Iranian mosques. Ahkami,
an Iranian-American, took inspiration from traditional Iranian ceramics
when she chose to create textures by layering hardened gesso and acrylic
onto a wood panel. She wanted to pay tribute to the celebratory and flamboyant
nature of Iranians and, as a result, decided to include glitter in this
- Ahkami says of her work:
- "While formally paying tribute to Iranian culture, Backsplash
satirizes Iran's menacing image in the United States and the cartoonish
brutality of Iran's theocratic regime. The melting mosque resembles a factory
or power plant, with polluting smokestacks for minarets. It also evokes
the 1960's horror film The Blob. The force of the meltdown produces a green
counter-wave in which miniature faces and hands of imperiled Iranian protestors
- In this work, I deliberately combine a flamboyant exquisiteness with
a cartoonish brutality to mirror the absurdly conflicting perceptions of
Iran to which I have been exposed as an Iranian-American. Among Iranians,
Iran is regarded as a source of immense pride and influence on world culture;
within American contemporary culture, Iran is understood as a backward
source of terror. I use the cacophonic, swirling patterning in Persian
art as an expressive tool to convey the dizzying confusion I have experienced
from being exposed to such opposite versions of Iran."
- Sandra Allen (b. 1963)
- Risorgimento, 2005
- Pencil on paper
- William F. Brooks Fund, 2009.115
- Risorgimento is closely related to the large-scale drawings of trees
that were part of Sandra Allen's NEW/NOW exhibition held at the NBMAA last
fall. Allen has been inspired by the surface and form of trees since the
late 1990s. Initially, she used her drawings as sketches for paintings.
She soon realized that the drawings became more important to her than the
final paintings and, therefore, decided to make drawing her primary medium.
- Allen describes Risorgimento as follows:
- "I was initially attracted to the tree trunk in Risorgimento because
of the interesting marks and scaring on the trunk. When I found this tree
(which I think is a Linden) I didn't have my camera with me and so I knew
I would have to plan on coming back another time soon. I left on a trip
to Italy the very next day and when I returned two weeks later the tree
was in bloom and I felt it was too late and I had lost my chance to get
what I was after. I knew I would have to wait six to eight months to come
back and photograph it again without any leaves. I decided to take some
pictures anyway and when I saw the photographs it seemed to me that the
trunk was even more poignant in contrast to the delicate white flowers
that were blooming. I had never drawn anything like it before and so decided
to give it a try.
- When I drew the tree I realized that the whiteness of the flowers was
not showing up at all and so decided that I would put in a gradual tone
in the background to make them standout. It is the only drawing I've done
that includes the flowers, buds and the background shading.
- My trip to Italy was the influence on the title. 'Risorgimento' means
a time of renewal, renaissance or revival."
- Alice Baber (1928-1982)
- The Light in the Depths, 1975
- Oil on canvas
- Gift of the Alice Baber Art Fund, Inc., 2000.38
- The Light in the Depths was one of Baber's mid-career paintings with
more color in stronger shades than her later work. The hallmark of Baber's
work is its beauty. Despite illness as a child and other adversity, the
artist maintained a life-long essential, poetic vision which was optimistic
and celebratory. Baber proclaimed that "color is more important to
me than some type of gesture or attacks."
- She studied at the University of Illinois at Bloomington and later
married artist Paul Jenkins (b. 1923) in 1964. They traveled to Japan and
India where she was thrilled to see the "open air stores filled with
a million colors." She died at 54. Her dedication to the cause of
women in the arts is continued today by the Alice Baber Art Fund.
- Jennifer Bartlett (b. 1941)
- Circle, Line, House from Rhapsody, 1992-93
- William F. Brooks Fund, 2006.126
- Bartlett's work Rhapsody, a career-defining painting which debuted
at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, in 1976, is a monumental piece, comprising
987 one-foot-square painted steel plates. The work reads as a survey of
advanced painting theories of the last century, referencing an array of
techniques and styles from the pointillism of Georges Seurat (1859-1891)
to the geometry and hatch-work of Sol LeWitt (1928-2007). Here we see three
etchings based on Rhapsody which not only illustrate the variety in style
of the piece, but also serve as a more accessible snapshot of the work.
- Harriett Casdin-Silver (1935-2008) & Kevin Brown (b. 1965)
- Alice Mitchell, 1999
- Hologram and audio dome
- Charles F. Smith Fund, 2000.2
- Harriett Casdin-Silver, a pioneer in holographic art, collaborated
with Kevin Brown, an expert in acoustic and robotics, to combine portrait
conventions with new innovations in technology to celebrate the process
- Alice Mitchell, is part of Harriet Casdin-Silver's series exploring
the body and psyche of women. As early as 1973 Casdin-Silver started exploring
figurative holograms. In the early 1980s she began to create portraits
of women she knew, either by abstracting and distorting the image to suggest
the stresses of personal and political changes, or by studied representations
of attitudes expressed through eyes, postures, and facial expressions.
Holograms make an excellent media for portraiture as they render the sitter
in three dimensions with striking detail.
- Casdin-Silver continued to work on images of women through the late
1990s. She expanded the limits of holographic expressions, exploring the
body, the self, and their entanglements with culture. Contemporary feminist
ideas about objectification, the gaze, and the power of the female body
have been persistent themes, as have the subject of aging, and the aging
process. Casdin-Silver's works are consistently innovative and relevant
to life in the new millennium.
- Mary Stevenson Cassatt (18441926)
- A Caress, 1891
- Pastel on paper
- Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1948.14
- Cassatt was born to a privileged family and spent much of her youth
abroad. She lived in Philadelphia from 1861 to 1865 and studied at the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before settling permanently in Paris.
She exhibited regularly at the Salon from 1868 to 1876. In 1877 Edgar Degas
(1834-1917) invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists, whom she joined
from 1879 to 1886. During this time, she developed the themes that would
characterize her oeuvre: women and children engaged in domestic activities.
At her death, Cassatt was considered by many to be America's leading female
- A Caress was shown in 1891 at Cassatt's solo exhibition at the
prestigious Galeries Durand-Ruel in Paris. Her confident technique belies
the difficulties of working in pastel. In the flat surfaces and subject
matter, the work reveals the influence of Japanese prints, which she had
studied. The theme also owes a debt to the Western tradition of representations
of the Madonna and child. However, this work of art was highly controversial
at the time as it depicted male genitalia drawn by a female artist.
- Cassatt's close friend and patron Louisine Havemeyer bought the pastel
in 1895 just before the opening of the artist's first major American retrospective.
Because it was a favorite, Havemeyer did not bequeath it to the Metropolitan
Museum of Art along with the rest of the Havemeyer Collection but gave
it to her daughter Electra Havemeyer Webb, the founder of the Shelburne
Museum, whose own daughter sold it months before her house burned to the
- Sarah Charlesworth (b. 1947)
- Control and Abandon, 1992-93
- Laminated Cibachrome
- Charles F. Smith Fund, 2005.05
- While studying painting and art history at Barnard College in New York
City, Charlesworth was influenced by the work of conceptualist artists
like Robert Barry
- (b. 1936), Lawrence Weiner (b. 1942) and Douglas Huebler (1924-1997).
Often associated with postmodern photographers Cindy Sherman (b. 1954)
and Laurie Simmons (b. 1949), Charlesworth's work explores the photograph
as a subject in itself, rather than the photograph's documentation of its
subject. This work, from the series Natural Magic (1992-94), uses photography
as both medium and subject to explore the image's ability to communicate
the real to the viewer. In fact, the image depicts the art of illusion,
or magic tricks in progress, alluding to the art of photography as a form
of magic or artifice, also suggesting that photography and painting are
equally effective media for creating illusions.