Mothers of Invention:
The Post that Started the Series
Armory Week, 2017
Originally published March 12, 2017
ADAA: Zilla Sánchez (born 1926), Topologia de le serie Azul (Topology of the Blue series), 2015, acrylic on stretched canvas; at Galerie Lelong. New York City
I skipped Miami this year, so I spent more time than usual at the fairs during Armory Week in New York City. I can't say there were "trends" in that mashup of art and commerce, but two important aspects stood out. One was the ever-interesting use of unusual materials in the making of art; the other, and the subject of this post, is the presence of women artists in a larger and more visible way. Many women were being shown posthumously—you know: die, get famous—but many others have had the satisfaction of success in their own lifetimes. I would like to see this latter development become a trend.
Armory: Yayoi Kusama (born 1929), Guidepost to the New World, 2016; public installation via Victoria Miro Gallery, London
Armory: Jeffrey Deitch's booth, The Florine Stettheimer Collapsed Time Salon
Deitch gave Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944) pride of place in the fabulously over-the-top booth he named in her honor. In the early decades of the 20th century Stettheimer, with her two sisters, became salonieres in New York City, hosting the work of modernists and showing her own as well
Below: Stettheimer's Asbury Park South, 1920, oil on canvas
Armory: Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), Ariadne, 1992, oil on canvas; at Hackett/Mill Gallery, San Francisco
Frankenthaler has her own post in this Mothers of Invention series
ADAA: Louise Nevelson (1900-1988), Sky Chapel, 1960, black wood assemblage; at Mary Anne Martin Fine Art, New York City
Nevelson has her own post in this Mothers of Invention series
Above and below at Armory: Mira Schendel (1919-1988), Sem titulo (Untitled), 1982, tempera and gold on board; at Cecilia Torres Fine Art, New York City
Born in Switzerland, Schendel was living in Italy when Fascism came to power. She emigrated to Brazil and made her career there, becoming one of the most significant Latin American artists of the 20th Century.
Armory: Carol Rama (1918-2015), Spazio anche piu che tempo (Space even more than time), 1971, inner tube collage and gouache on coated paperboard; at Repetto Gallery, London
A self-taught artist, Rama has been described as fearless. Though she worked with assemblage using unusual materials, like rubber inner tubes, she was never affiliated with Arte Povera. Much of her oeuvre (unlike what you see here) portrayed frank sexuality and was censored by the Fascists. I pulled the image above from the internet because the glass made photographing the work impossible, however a detail from the Armory installation is below (reflections and all)
ADAA: Stella Snead (1910-2006), at Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York City
Above: Deadlock, 1948-49, oil on Masonite, 13 x 18 inches
Below: Eclipse of the Moon, 1942, oil on Masonite, 18 x 14 inches
ADAA: Addie Herter (1920-2009), Untitled collages; 1953, top, and 1954; also at Pavel Zoubok Gallery
ADAA: Blanche Lazzell (1878-1956), Untitled (Criticized), 1924, watercolor and gouache on paper; unframed dimensions: app 7 x 7.5 inches; at Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York City
Armory: Alma Thomas (1891-1978), Apollo 12 Splash Down, 1970, acrylic and graphite on canvas; at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York City
Thomas has her own post in this Mothers of Invention series
ADAA: Dorothy Antoinette (Toni) LaSelle (1901-2002), at Inman Gallery, Houston
Foreground: Composition 10; in distance: Suspension; both 1948, oil on canvas
Booth views above and below
The two small works in this photo are shown below
Small Doxology II, 1956, oil on canvasboard
Small Doxology III, 1956, oil on canvasboard
ADAA: Evelyn Statsinger (1927-2016), Abstraction with Arrow, 1950, pen, india ink, and crayon on brown paper; at Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
"She was not known much beyond Chicago," I overheard the gallerist telling a collector. The obituary I found online shows a young woman surrounded by her artwork. Statsinger is remembered as a respected multidisciplinary artist. "At the time of her passing, Statsinger’s presence in Chicago’s art world was as prominent as ever," according to the obit.
One of the things I love about the art fairs is the chance to see the work of an artist who is new to me. Both Statsinger and LaSelle, whose whose paintings precede these, were shown in as much depth as an art fair can offer, which is to say with the installation of an entire booth.
View of the Statsinger installation. Three of the untitled photograms (1948-1952) shown on the far wall are pictured below:
ADAA: Ruth Asawa (1926-2013), Untitled (Single-lobed Five Layer Continuous Form within a Form), 1950s, brass wire, 13 x 20 x 20 inches; at John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco
Not all the Mothers of Invention included in this report are being shown posthumously. Zilia Sánchez and Yayoi Kusama, whose images open this post, are both very much alive and still working at ages 91 and 88 (in 2021, 95 and 92 respectively), as are the artists who are shown here through the end of the post: Michelle Stuart, Lee Bontecou, Betye Saar, Sheila Hicks, Kay WalkingStick, Mary Corse, Brenda Goodman, and Katherine Bradford
ADAA: Michelle Stuart (born 1933) installation at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks and Projects, New York City
Michelle Stuart, El Florido, Guatemala II, 1978-79; earth, natural graphite on muslin-backed rag paper.
ADAA: Lee Bontecou (born 1931) installation at Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Beverly Hills
Closer view of one work on paper, with detail below
Armory: Betye Saar (born 1926), We Was Mostly 'bout Survival, 2017, mixed-media assemblage; at Roberts & Tinton, Los Angeles
Saar's assemblages, often made from old domestic implements, contain a narrative that intertwines domestic history, racist stereotypes, and the struggle of African Americans in the modern post-Jim Crow era.
Armory: Sheila Hicks (born 1934) at Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris and Dallas
ADAA: Kay WalkingStick (born 1935) at the June Kelly Gallery, New York City
Kay WalkingStick, Synaptic Blue, 1982, acrylic and wax over double-layered canvas, 56 x 56 inches
ADAA: Zilia Sánchez, Topoligia erotica (from the series Las Amazonas (Erotic topology from the Amazons series), 1968, acrylic on stretched canvas; right: Topologia de le serie Azul (Topology of the Blue series) shown in the photo that opens this post; at Galerie Lelong, New York City
Sánchez has her own post in this Mothers of invention series.
Zilia Sánchez, Topologia (de la serie Amazona), 1967-2006, acrylic on stretched canvas
Armory: Mary Corse (1945), at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, Untitled (White Inner Band with White Sides, Beveled), 2016
Untitled (White Inner Band, Beveled), 2014; both glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas
NADA: Brenda Goodman (born 1944); installation at Jeff Bailey Gallery, Hudson, New York
Below: At Odds, 2016, oil on wood
Independent: Katherine Bradford (born 1942), title unavailable; at Canada, New York City