Charline von Heyl
German, born 1960
Charline von Heyl (German, born 1960)
Acrylic and oil on linen
62 1/4 × 60 × 1 1/4 inches
Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation
Assumptions about abstraction and representation are central in the work of Charline von Heyl. She challenges these assumptions through a combination of pattern, form and spatial illusion in the painting Idolores. The ground is composed of the vertical axis of a grid evoking the work of Agnes Martin (whose work is on view nearby). Atop the grid is the bust of a crowned figure Idolores, a name from the lyrics of a song in James Joyce’s Ulysses: “O, Idolores, Queen of the Eastern Seas!” This passage from Ulysses conflates its protagonist’s wife Molly Bloom with sirens - femme fatale mermaids from Homer’s Odyssey. Von Heyl’s allusion to Joyce suggests the powerful agency of creative women, like Agnes Martin, throughout history.