CELEBRATING WOMEN ARTISTS
Za’art selection from Sotheby’s ART NEWS
A selling exhibition at Sotheby”s East Hampton presents the work and practices of women artists.
Inspired by Rebecca Morrill’s book GREAT WOMEN ARTISTS, the selling exhibition at Sotheby’s East Hampton brings together a diverse set of female artists not defined by their gender, but by their distinct artistic practices.
“Her Voice” actualizes the pages of Great Women Artists through the presentation of works by Helen Frankenthaler, Gertrude Abercrombie and Lynda Benglis, leaders who have set the foundation for next-generation stars such as Dana Schutz, Loie Hollowell and Jadé Fadojutimi.
Inspired by the Surrealist work of René Magritte and Salvador Dalí, Gertrude Abercrombie developed an idiosyncratic visual vocabulary that combined elements of American folk art and subconscious experience into an uncanny strain of American modernism.
The only child of itinerant Christian Scientist opera singers, Abercrombie traveled a great deal throughout her childhood before settling in Chicago, throughout which she developed a love of European languages (she was fluent in German) and jazz, as well as a deep connection to the Midwest.
As she noted in 1951, Abercrombie’s paintings are highly autobiographical:
“My work comes directly from my inner consciousness and it must come easily. It is a process of selection and reduction.”
Created during her most formative years, Figure Facing East is exemplary of the evocative landscapes that distinguish the artist’s work. In it, as in much of her work, a lone figure walks across a barren landscape, a solitary tree and deserted structure reflecting the sense of isolation the artist struggled with throughout her life. Permeating these psychological self-portraits is the dual motif of the witch and queen; though Abercrombie did not consider herself a great beauty, she relished the powerful artifice that came from embracing this two-fold persona.
While Abercrombie’s paintings have been historically undervalued, a comprehensive retrospective exhibition in 2018 helped her become one of the most desirable American women artists now on the market. Her work resides in the permanent collections of some of the country’s most important museums, including the Whitney, the Smithsonian and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.
Often working on a large scale, Jadé Fadojutimi’s practice is distinguished by its emotive and dynamic nature. Fadojutimi harnesses the depth of daily emotions through chromatic palettes and exaggerated lines, and establishes relatability within abstraction — viewers experience themselves through her work.
Typhoon is a compelling, formative example of Fadojutimi’s work. Like a composer of color, the artist references marine landscapes, microbes and plant life with vivid brushstrokes. These emotional landscapes facilitate a moment of escape, encouraging their audience to reconnect with the naturalism that surrounds them and embrace a type of venerability.
At only 29, Fadojutimi is represented by two of the world’s most recognized galleries: Pippy Houldsworth and Gagosian. Fadojutimi graduated with a BA from the Slade School of Art, London, and an MA from the Royal College of Art, London, where she received the year’s Hine Painting Prize. The artist’s formal path mimics that of fellow Slade alumni Rachel Whiteread, David Hockney and Margaret Calvert.
Since her beginnings in the post-Minimalism movement in the 1960s, Lynda Benglis has pushed the boundaries of painting and sculpture, and established her voice as one of the most formative women artists of the latter half of the 21st century.
Benglis’s artistic practices have been recognized for their organic approach to abstraction — she produces ecstatic forms that feel youthful in nature.
In Blansko, Benglis honors the rich history of glass blowing — which dates to the 1st century BC, when Syrian artisans exported luxury goods throughout the Roman Empire — and re-frames it in a contemporary artistic context.
Exhibited at the artist’s acclaimed 2009–10 exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Blansko presents glass not as a fragile, sharp and dangerous medium, but as soft, supple and playful. The work embodies the artist’s interest in an array of art-making techniques and her interest in pushing viewers to embrace a more comprehensive collection of textures and form.
Often regarded as an antidote to male-dominated Minimalism and art-process movements, the artist’s work imbues forms with color and sensuality. Regarding her approach to materials as an extension of her body, she told art historian Tracy Zwick: “My work is an expression of space. What is the experience of moving? Is it pictorial? Is it an object? Is it a feeling? It all comes from my body.”