DC Moore Gallery
The Likeness of Being
The Likeness of Being: Contemporary Self Portraits by 50 Women includes works in a variety of media, most created within the last two years and many made expressly for the exhibition, by fifty women artists, including Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Elizabeth Catlett, Judy Chicago, Nicole Eisenman, Janet Fish, Audrey Flack, Mary Frank, Julia Jacquette, Marisol, Catherine Murphy, Elizabeth Murray, Yoko Ono, Judy Pfaff, Elaine Reichek, Betye Saar, Jeanne Silverthorne and Joan Snyder. This thought provoking, imaginative, raucous, humorous and reflective exhibition, curated by Judith E. Stein, presents a rare opportunity to see how an unprecedented array of contemporary women artists view themselves and their worlds. To our knowledge, it is the first major exhibition of contemporary self portraits by women ever to take place in a New York gallery.
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Bridget Moore, President of DC Moore Gallery, explains, "The idea for the show evolved from the observation that women tend not to create traditional straightforward head and shoulders self portraits, but seem drawn to presenting themselves within rich, multi-layered contexts that address a variety of complex and timely issues, including questions of self image, gender and racial identity, and women’s place in the art world and in society as a whole."
Self portraits by women artists have existed since at least Roman times, when the classical historian Pliny the Elder reported that a female artist named Iaia of Lyzikos had painted "a portrait of herself, executed with the aid of a mirror." Up until the early years of the 20th century, the majority of these portraits were fairly straightforward. However, the tumultuous upheavals that took place around the turn of the century, both in society at large and in the art world in particular, helped to create a new type of woman artist and therefore a new type of women’s self portraiture -- independent, brash, experimental, unshackled by conventional notions of feminine behavior. For virtually the first time, women artists were free to break taboos in their work. Increasingly, they began to put their concerns, their way of seeing things, into their self portraits without the disguises and defenses of previous centuries. After the further upheavals of the feminist art movement during the 1970s, this process only accelerated. As this exhibition illustrates, women’s self portraiture today encompasses works in an astounding array of styles and mediums expressing an equally broad array of ideas and concerns.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Judith E. Stein. Curator and critic, Stein organized over ninety exhibitions for the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she served as curator from 1981-94, including Red Grooms: A Retrospective, The Figurative Fifties: New York School Figurative Expressionism and I Tell My Heart: The Art of Horace Pippin. Her next project, Picturing the Modern Amazon, opens at New York's The New Museum in March, 2000.