ExhibitionsPermanent Collection Installation Pioneers, Influencers, and Rising Voices: Women in the Collection
Past Exhibition

Permanent Collection Installation Pioneers, Influencers, and Rising Voices: Women in the Collection

March 7, 2020 – May 29, 2022

In observance of the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting some women the right to vote, this installation is drawn from the High Museum’s collection and features artworks made exclusively by women.

Artists represented include some of the most influential voices of the past fifty years, such as Kiki Smith, Lorna Simpson, and Shirin Neshat; midcareer artists such as Won Ju Lim and Chantal Joffe; emerging artists such as Jamian Juliano-Villani and Ella Kruglyanskaya; and Atlanta-based artists Annette Cone-Skelton and Rocío Rodríguez.

Whether exploring the multidimensionality of installation art, refashioning Minimalist forms and strategies, or challenging male-dominated social hierarchies, the selected works are inspired by or related to feminist concerns, which were advanced by the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Concerns that still persist today include voter suppression strategies that seek to disenfranchise people from participating in the democratic process.

Rocío Rodríguez The Command, 1988

Rocío Rodríguez
American, born Cuba, 1952
The Command, 1988
Oil on canvas
Purchase with funds from the Lannan Foundation, 1988.44For more than thirty years, Rocío Rodríguez has explored a variety of approaches to painting in her Atlanta-based studio. At the center of her practice is a symbiotic relationship between the artist and her work. Rodríguez constantly recalibrates the skills required to gain command of her materials and techniques, in a process that is often experimental. In The Command, the female figures represent this relationship between the artist and her work—one controlling and the other passive. Rodríguez describes their actions as the “contortions we put ourselves through in service to the Ego.” 

Db Photod8200u748820041988.44rodriguez O2 1 1480x1367.jpg

Renee Stout We Shared a Ripe Mango, 2010

Renee Stout
American, born 1958
We Shared a Ripe Mango, 2010
Mixed media
Purchase with David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Fund, 2010.24.1Renee Stout’s fictitious alter ego Fatima Mayfield is among the many imaginary figures whose lives unfold in her work. Stout has described Mayfield as a “vehicle that allows me to role play in order to confront the issues, whether it’s romantic relationships, social ills, or financial woes, in a way that’s open, creative and humorous.” Her paintings We Shared a Ripe Mango, No Match for Your Demons, We Were Laughing on the Sun Porch, and The Missing Book comprise a suite of four paintings based on imaginary memories that Mayfield may have shared with others. Each panel presents a vignette painted and composed with assemblage in a magic-realist style, providing fragments of a narrative that the viewer is invited to reconstruct.

Db Photod7747u590774732010.24.1stoutcrp O2 1 1210x1480.jpg

Charline von Heyl Idolores, 2011

Charline von Heyl
German, born 1960
Idolores, 2011
Acrylic and oil on linen
Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation, 2011.334Assumptions about abstraction and representation are central in Charline von Heyl’s work. 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 (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 conflates its protagonist’s wife, Molly Bloom, with sirens—femme fatale mermaids from Homer’s Odyssey. Von Heyl’s allusion to Joyce highlights the powerful agency of creative women, like Agnes Martin, throughout history.

D2768u204276892011.334vonheyl O2 1 1423x1480.jpg

Joyce Pensato Daisy, 2007

Joyce Pensato
American, 1941–2019
Daisy, 2007
Enamel and metallic paint on linen
Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation, 2013.398Joyce Pensato was perhaps best known for her paintings based on toys and cartoon characters such as Homer Simpson, Batman, and the subject of this painting, the Disney character Daisy Duck. Pensato’s pop culture subjects are psychologically charged and painted in an aggressively gestural fashion in mostly black, white, and silver, which bestows them with a tortured, soulful demeanor, challenging the superficiality of popular culture. Their drips and splatters amplify the emotional intensity of Pensato’s subjects while also recalling the rebellious, expressive, and prohibited art of graffiti.

D5463u211546392013.398pensato O2 1 1182x1480.jpg

Elka Krajewska Saile. (One of the few mountains in the Alps with a female name. Soft with sudden, steep canyons, it stands on the edge of two long valleys, exposed to winds from all directions. In summer months rare grasses and flowers grow in small eroded valleys, visible from far as vertical lines of falling rock), 2015

Elka Krajewska
Polish, born 1967
Saile. (One of the few mountains in the Alps with a female
name. Soft with sudden, steep canyons, it stands on the edge of two
long valleys, exposed to winds from all directions. In summer
months rare grasses and flowers grow in small eroded valleys, visible
from far as vertical lines of falling rock)
, 2015
Wax pencil on blackout fabric
Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation, 2016.185Elka Krajewska’s Saile is part of a series of thirty-three landscape drawings titled Tides in Alps. According to the artist, the drawings are “built around an exchange between two lovers, one from high mountains and the other from the sea. Their landscapes find forms to relate to each other, exert influence over the other and negotiate shapes of coexistence.” Each drawing is accompanied by a narrative title that evokes aspects of the place depicted with descriptions of physical and atmospheric qualities. A field tent pitched at the base of the mountain in Saile suggests dualities such as attitudes toward nature that are romantic or objective, poetic or practical.

Db Photod7687u897768752016.185krajewska O2 1 1154x1480.jpg

Judy Pfaff Apples and Oranges, 1986

Judy Pfaff
American, born England, 1946
Apples and Oranges, 1986
Plastic laminates, painted steel, and wood
Purchase with 20th-Century Art Acquisition Fund, 1989.47Judy Pfaff is a pioneering artist whose work in the 1970s and 1980s led to the rise of installation as one of the major innovations in contemporary art. Apples and Oranges is a dynamic three-dimensional abstraction of a still life seemingly on the verge of pandemonium but underpinned by a rigorous compositional balance of geometric shapes. Its title suggests that the elements that comprise the work—signifying flatness and dimensionality, movement and stasis, symbols and signs, the handmade and the mechanical—are thematically incongruous. In 1989, the preeminent art historian Linda Nochlin described Pfaff’s work in terms of “ordered chaos.” Nochlin further described the gendered prejudice that identified “good” masculine art as “aggressive, wounding, hard-edged” in contrast to “bad” or trivial art by women like Pfaff as chaotic and consisting of a “hodge-podge of unelevated objects thrown helter-skelter, without defense, into a shapeless, feminine receptacle”—thus setting Pfaff’s defiant, groundbreaking work apart from the mainstream.

Db Photod5286u713528671989.47pfaffsupercrp O2 1 1480x1033.jpg

Lesley Dill Poem Eyes (These Saw Visions…), 1995

Lesley Dill
American, born 1950
Poem Eyes (These Saw Visions…), 1995
Paint, collage, thread on silkscreen and tea stained paper
Purchase with 20th Century Art Acquisition Fund, 1995.144Best known for her combination of art and text in large-scale installations, Lesley Dill explores the relationships between poetry, the female body, and emotion in conflict with social conventions. Dill’s use of language developed while she was living in India between 1990 and 1992. There, she developed an affinity with the country’s spiritual traditions and art forms, such as Buddhist prayer flags printed with sacred texts. She has described language as being “the touchstone . . . of all my work.” Dill’s scroll paintings combine text with photographic images of the female form, alluding to the cascade of a waterfall symbolic of emotional release and spiritual renewal.

Db Photod6940u890694011995.144dillcrp O2 1 1163x1480.jpg

Agnes Martin Untitled #3, 1994

Agnes Martin
American, born Canada, 1912–2004
Untitled #3, 1994
Acrylic and graphite on canvas
Purchase in honor of Pat D’Alba Sabatelle, President of the Members Guild, 1995–1996, with funds from Alfred Austell Thornton in memory of Leila Austell Thornton and Albert Edward Thornton, Sr., and Sarah Miller Venable and William Hoyt Venable, 1995.86Agnes Martin was one of the most influential artists of her generation who is associated with the Minimalist movement. Untitled #3, painted in bands of low-saturated chalky color, evokes the arid climate and abundant sunshine of New Mexico, where Martin spent most of her life. The painting’s bands of pastel color establish the horizontal axis of a grid, which represented to Martin “immaterial perfection” or beauty. Martin believed that the grid, when applied to the surface of a canvas, lessened its overbearing compression of space. Within the grid, she reasserted the primacy of subject matter in an abstract form that conveyed happiness, solitude, perfection, and the transcendent potential of art.

D0347u205034711995.86martin O2 1480x1474.jpg