This Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating by featuring women artist in the Arkansas Arts Center Collection. Along with the National Museum of Women in the Arts and museums around the country, we’re looking at the women artists in our collection and their contributions to the field. Here is a look at the work five women artists, spanning the last 200 years, that show the incredible talent of women artists represented in the Arkansas Arts Center Collection.
Berthe Morisot, Le Flageolet (The Flute)
Berthe Morisot was one of the very few women at the center of the Impressionist circle, exhibiting at the “Exhibition of Impressionists” in 1874 with Cezanne, Renoir, Monet and Degas. In France, Impressionism was a sweeping movement – and one that would go on to shape French art for decades. Morisot’s work gained the respect of her male counterparts in the Impressionist circle, a difficult feat at the turn of the 20th century. However, she was often barred from the spaces and subjects men had access to – bars, cabarets and cafes – and so often depicted in their work. Morisot instead turned to spaces that men didn’t have access to, creating beautifully intimate scenes of female and domestic life.
Berthe Morisot, French (Bourges, France, 1841 – 1895, Paris, France), Le Flageolet (The Flute), 1890, oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 34 5/8 inches, On loan from the Jackson T. Stephens Charitable Trust for Art. XL.2000.001.003
Georgia O’Keeffe, From Pink Shell
No history of American modern art can be written without Georgia O’Keeffe. Often called the “Mother of American modernism,” she was even well known in her own time, breaking barriers that few female artists before her had achieved over the course of her 70-year career. Her 1946 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art was the museum’s first major retrospective featuring a woman. While she is perhaps best known for her grand depictions of abstracted flowers, O’Keeffe found inspiration all over the natural world. Later in her career, as she began to spend more time in New Mexico, she drew inspiration from petrified shells and bones she found while walking in the desert.
Georgia O’Keeffe, American (Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, 1887 – 1986, Santa Fe, New Mexico), From Pink Shell, 1931, pastel on paper laid down to board, 14 1/4 x 10 5/8 in., Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Bequest from the estates of Louise and Fred Dierks. 2012.008.009
Irene Rice Pereira, The Circumnavigation of the Rose
Irene Rice Pereira was a pioneering member of the Abstract Expressionists. Influenced by the ideas of the Bauhaus, I. Rice Pereira, as she was known, believed firmly in the role of abstraction in the future of art. In 1953, Pereira was granted a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. It was one of the first two major retrospectives devoted to the work of a female artist – the other being painter Loren MacIver. Circumnavigation of the Rose is a beautiful example of the very abstract, conceptual work Pereira was producing at the time she was granted that exhibition. The title, The Circumnavigation of the Rose, refers to the compass rose and has to do with the artist’s spiritual journey through life. She explored these ideas both in her paintings and in her unpublished autobiography “Eastward Journey,” which was written in 1953.
And, if you just can’t get enough of this beautiful painting, try it in cake form. The dessert menu at Canvas restaurant includes a chocolate Nutella cake with buttercream frosting painted to look just like The Circumnavigation of the Rose.
Irene Rice Pereira, American (Boston, Massachusetts, 1902 – 1971, Marbella, Spain), The Circumnavigation of the Rose, circa 1950s, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Wanda Rock. 1981.038.001.
Louise Nevelson, Tide Garden IV
American sculptor Louise Nevelson is perhaps best known for her large-scale wooden assemblage works. Working from influences ranging from Pablo Picasso to Marcel Duchamp, Nevelson used manipulated and found materials – often found on the streets of New York – to craft work that is recognizable, yet abstract. As one of the first women working in large-scale installations, Nevelson’s work was often not favored by critics. However, her work in this field would go on to influence generations of women sculptors and feminist artists.
Louise Nevelson (Kiev, Russia, 1899 – 1988, New York, New York), Tide Garden IV, 1964, wood construction painted black, 91 x 140 x 10 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Sidney Singer, Sr., Stephens, Inc., Gerald Cramer, Martin Oppenheimer, Edward Rosenthal, and John Rosenthal. 1983.030
Wendy Maruyama, Rohwer and Jerome from The Tag Project
Trained as a furniture maker, Wendy Maruyama also works as a sculptor, creating large installations, often as commentary on social or political events. Rohwer and Jerome are from The Tag Project, a group of 10 sculpture, each representing one of the 10 Japanese American Relocation Centers where poeple of Japanese ancestry were held during World War II. To create each piece, Maruyama and her team methodically recreated the identification tags given to nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans using the rosters of internees housed in the archives of the War Relocation Authority, then tied together to hang from the ceiling. Evocative of a grove of trees or a group of people, the sculptures rustle or murmur as they rotate, returning a voice to a once voiceless populace. Most recently, Maruyama completed The wildLIFE Project, which explores the effect of poaching on wildlife populations.
Featured: Wendy Maruyama, American (La Junta, Colorado, 1952 – ), Rohwer (The Tag Project) and Jerome (The Tag Project), 2011, tea- and coffee-stained cut paper, ink, string, thread, and metal, 144 inches x 24 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of the artist.
Who are your favorite women artists? Let us know in the comments.