Monthly archives: July, 2018

In Praise of Older Women Artists

Simone Pheulpin at The Design Museum of London. Photo: Maison Parisienne

Last year, Artsy took a look at why old women had replaced young men as the “new darlings” of the art word. Its twofold explanation: as institutions attempt to revise the art-historical canon, passionate dealers and curators have seen years of promotion come to fruition and these artists have gained attention as blue-chip galleries search for new artists to represent among those initially overlooked.

Artsy points at Carmen Herrara, Carol Rama, Irma Blank, and Geta Brătescu and others to make its point. Mary Sabbatino, vice president at Galerie Lelong, is quoted as saying,  “They’re fully formed artists, they’re mature artists, they’re serious artists. They’re not going to burn out as sometimes happens with younger artists…and normally the prices are far below the other artists of their generation, so you’re offering a value to someone.” Barbara Haskell, a curator at the Whitney Museum in New York, says museums everywhere are realizing that “there’s been a lopsided focus on the white male experience” in art history, and are working to correct that.”

Primitive Figures Bird and Insects, Luba Krejci,
knotted linen, 40.5″ x 44.5″ x 2″, circa 1970s. Photo: Tom Grotta

Among the women artists working in fiber who belong on a list of those achieving belated recognition include Ruth Asawa, Sheila Hicks (mentioned in the Artsy article) Kay Sekimachi, Lenore Tawney, Ethel Stein, Simone Pheulpin, Sonia Delauney, Luba Krejci, Ritzi Jacobi and Helena Hernmarck. The international contemporary fiber movement was initiated by women who took reinvented tapestry, took it off the wall and drew global attention to an art form that had been synonymous with tradition to that point. Luba Krecji adapted needle and bobbin lace techniques to create, “nitak,” her own technique, which enabled her to “draw” with thread. In her use of line as “sculptural form,” Ruth Asawa,” provided a crucial link between the mobile modernism of Alexander Calder and the gossamer Minimalism of Fred Sandback, whose yarn pieces similarly render distinctions between interior and exterior moot,” wrote Andrea K. Scott last year in The New Yorker.

 

Damask 5, Ethel Stein, 1980-89. Photo by Tom Grotta

These artists continue their explorations though their seventies, eighties and nineties. An example, Kay Sekimachi, who created complex, elegant monofilament weavings in the 70s and 80s, bowls and towers of paper after that, and continues, at age 90, to create elegant weavings of lines and grids that are reminiscent of the paintings of Agnes Martin. After having received the Special Mention Loewe Craft Prize and exhibited at the  Design Museum of London, this year, Simone Pheulpin continues to create innovative work in her 70s, work that is part of the 10th contemporary art season at Domaine de Chaumont sur Loire and part of the exhibition “Tissage Tressage” at the Fondation Villa Datris.

Behind the Scenes: Pickup at Norma Minkowitz’ Studio

This week, we stopped by Norma Minkowitz’s studio to pick up a few new pieces. Minkowitz, who has worked with browngrotta arts for over 20 years, is not afraid to let her imagination run wild. Minkowitz’s studio, which was built by her husband Shelly, is a place like no other.

Norma Minkowitz in her studio.

Immediately upon entering you are exposed to a vast array of Minkowitz’s work. Pen and ink drawings, crocheted wall hangings and figures, collages and three-dimensional mixed media sculptures are scattered throughout the studio. Crocheted birds in various stages of progress sit in flocks on tables and shelves. Various sized models of heads peer down at the happenings beneath them. The heads, some of which are models of Minkowtiz’s own head (some shrunken and some enlarged), are used to create pieces such as Victim.

 

Below the heads sits Minkowitz’ “cabinets of curiosity.” The contents of every cabinet drawer are a surprise. In one drawer, crocheted dead birds and the molds that were used to created them sit beside horseshoe crab skeletons. Whether you find doll heads with crocheted bodies or small animal bones, you are sure to stumble upon oddities of all sorts.

A few steps over in the other side of Minkowitz’s studio, a wall of shelves holding various spools of thread spans the width of the room. Underneath, drawers house hundreds of bundles of thread in every color imaginable. Minkowitz incorporates detailed embroidery in much of her work, carefully choosing the colors and types of stitches for each piece. For example, while working on Русское сердце (Russian Heart), a piece inspired by her mother, Minkowitz carefully selected a color palette that mirrored the colors her mother wore throughout her life.

 

The uninhibited and personal nature of Minkowitz’s work make not only make it eye-catching, but incomparable. To see more of Minkowitz’s work visit http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/minkowitz.php