I posted this blog a few years ago in honor of the 4th of July. Today I went back and added some additional American women artists. They are in no particular order. Enjoy – I know I left some out, if I left out your favorite, put it in the comment!
A Kiss for Baby Anne – by Mary Cassatt 1844-1926
Dark Star by Betye Saar 1926 –
Sky Cathedral by Louise Nevelson 1899-1988
Maman by Louise Bourgeois 1911-2010
Black Iris, Georgia Okeefe 1887-1986
#180 Working Drawing, Ingrid Calame 1965
Life and Coca-Cola by Margaret Bourke-White 1904-1971
Mountains and Sea by Helen Fankenthaler 1928-2011
Wind and Water, Pat Steirs 1938
Alice Neel Young Woman by Alice Neel 1900-1984
Garden of Praise by Grandma Moses 1860-1961
I Need Art and Coffee by Lee Krasner 1908-1984
Still Life With Peaches by Sarah Peele 1800-1885
Yves by Joan Mitchell 1925-1992
John F. Kennedy by Elaine De Kooning 19198 – 1989
Max’s Crush by Kady Noland – 1956 –
Woman with a Fur Collar on the Street by Diane Arbus 1923-1971
This is the 17th installment in my on-going series WOMEN IN ART.
Master and Margarita
Nadya Rusheva may be one of the prolific artists I have ever encountered. In her short 17 years, (1952 – 1969) she managed to create more the 10,000 drawings, even though during the last years of her life she couldn’t draw more than half an hour a day.
Never heard of her? Neither had I!
Born in Mongolia, her father, Nikolai Konstantinovich Rusheva (1918-1975) was a theater artist. Her mother, Natalia Azhimaa-Rusheva (born 1926) was a prima ballerina in Tyva.Many of her drawings are at the National Museum of the Republic of Tyva, while most of them are located in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
She began drawing incessantly at the age of five, but her family didn’t realiy pay attention to them until she was seven. She had begun painting and drawing daily, and once drew 36 illustrations (or 40 according to her mother) for The Tsar of Sultan, a poem by Aleksandr Pushkin, in one evening while her father read her the story. (The story was immortalized by Rimsky-Korsakov with an opera).
It is said she did not do preliminary sketches and rarely, if ever, used an eraser.
“I live the life of those I draw. I first see them … they appear on paper as watermarks, and I need to do something to lead around them.”
Originally banned in Russia, this work was begun in 1928, with a 2nd highly edited version published in 1966 and 1967. It tells two parallel stories, featuring a visit of the Devil to the atheistic Soviet Union, with the second part taking place during Christ’s final days in Jerusalem
Sadly, she died from a brain hemorrhage caused by a congenital defect of the cerebral arteries.
The name Nadya means “hope” or “living eternally”. Her art will live on forever, her name will live on as far away as outer pace – as there is Asteroid 3516 Rusheva named for her, as is also a pass in the Caucasus Mountain.
Appollo and Daphne
Master and Margarita
Pushkin and Wife dancing
A gifted artist, a life too short, but stunning nonetheless!
If you can read Cyrillic – there is much more information about her on line! If you can read Cyrillic and find out more, let me know!
This is the 16th installment of “Women in Art” series
Born Alice Prin, she eventually became known as Kiki De Montparnasse. In the 1920’s, Montparnasse, located on the left bank of the river Seine, became the meeting place for the artistic world – with artists coming from all over the world. Gertrude Stein ran a salon that was attended by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway. Sylvia Beach had Shakespeare and Company, almost going bankrupt publishing Ulysses for James Joyce. Montparnasse created some great colorful characters, with Kiki in the middle of it all. She would appear at Le Jockey Bar and sing bawdy funny songs, climb up on the tables and lift her skirts to dance (not bothering with underwear). But, she was more than an entertainer, she was a friend to many, a model to some and a muse to others – most notably to Man Ray.
Kiki de Montparnassee 1926 – Man Ray
She was raised in total poverty by her grandmother. At age twelve, she was sent to Paris to live with her mother, working in shops and bakeries (She was fired from a bakery for darkening her eyebrows with matchsticks!) By the age of fourteen she was posing nude for sculptors – causing her mother to kick her into the streets.
Other artists she posed for included Foujita, Picabia, Jean Cocteau, Alexander Calder, Moise Kisling to name a few.
Kiki by Moise Kissing
Her companion for six years (or eight years depending on where you look) was the photographer Man Ray, and his most iconic image was a photograph of her, which was reproduced on the cover of the graphic novel about her life. She also starred in several surrealistic films by Man Ray (see link at the end of the post for a tribute to her)
Le Violon d’Ingres – Man Ray
She was a painter in her own right, having a sold-out exhibition of her work in 1927 (however, none of these images were available). It is reported her drawings and paintings included self-portraits, dream landscapes and animals apparently painted in an Impressionistic style (which I find interesting as many of her friends were Surrealists).
In 1929 her memoirs were published (at age 28) with an introduction by Hemingway who wrote:
“about as close as people get nowadays to being a Queen, but that, of course, is very different from being a lady.”
For a few years in the 1930’s she owned a Montparnasse cabaret known at “Chez Kiki”.
“All I need is an onion, a bit of bread, and a bottle of red wine, and I will always find somebody to offer me that.”
Her health began to decline in the 1930’s and she also began financing medical care for her mother. She left Paris in 1940 to avoid the German occupation living mostly in the South of France.
Kik died in 1953 after collapsing outside her flat. She was only 52, suffering from complications from alcoholism and drug dependence. Her tomb says:
Kiki, 1901-1953, singer, actree, painter, Queen of Montparnasse
The painter Tsuguharu Foujita said that with the death of Kiki, the glorious days of Montparnassee were buried forever.
This book was apparently banned in the US until the 1970’s. In her honor, a daylily was named Kiki de Montparnasse. There is also a high end sex store that bears her name.
Here is a video of a tribute to Kiki with clips of some of the surrealistic films made by Man Ray.
If you are interested in learning more about Kiki, I highly recommend the graphic novel about her simply titled Kiki de Montparnasse. I enjoyed researching this, I would like to read more about that glorious time in Paris, so you have recommendations, let me know. I found Kiki was more than just being famous for being famous, there was more to her than that! She lived gloriously for a time, with a tragic ending.
“Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind.”
So said Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) an artist as known for her monochromatic abstract sculptures as her flamboyant appearance.
Born in Kiev, Russia, Louise was born Leah Berliawsky. Even though her father had a successful lumber business, he left for the United States in 1902 when Tsarist Russia started making it difficult for the Jews. Little Leah was so traumatized by her father leaving, she stopped speaking for six months.
In 1920, disgruntled with life in a small town, she changed her name to Louise and married Charles Nevelson who was from a wealthy ship-owning family. In 1922, she gave birth to her only child, Myron (known as Mike), who also became a sculptor. Louise didn’t like the upper-middle class lifestyle and after 11 years of marriage, she took her son to live with her parents in Maine.
In 1932 Louise travelled to Germany to study with Hans Hoffman, and stayed until the Nazis forced the school to close. Following Hoffman to New York and she began taking classes at the Art Student League, alongside abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock. She preferred not to align herself to any art movement and worked hard to establish herself in a male dominated world – she did not want to be known as a “woman artist”.
“Women at that time were supposed to look pretty and throw little handkerchiefs around…well I couldn’t play that role.”
She began experimenting with different styles and materials frequently utilizing wood and junk she found on the streets of New York. While gaining a reputation for her art, she began cultivating a personal lifestyle that included heavy face makeup, dramatic clothing, colorful scarves and false eyelashes. She was friends with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, who wrote a play about her in 2002 – Occupant (Anne Bancroft played her initially – later Mercedes Ruehl) which is a two-act play featuring Nevelson answering questions after her death to an un-named interviewer.
Mercedes Ruehl at Louis Nevelson in Occupant
She was photographed for the cover of Life magazine as early at 1958. About that time, her works were featured in the Museum of Modern Art. But, even with all this publicity, she did not depend on a steady income from art until she was in her 60’s.
Louise Nevelson Plaza in Lower Manhatten
Louise Nevelson Stamps
Along the way, Louise briefly worked as an assistant to Diego Rivera, she received the National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan in 1988 amd was the subject of a set of commemorative stamps issued in 2000.
For most of her life, she lived simply, not wanting material possessions. She worked into her 80’s just completing a 35-foot black sculpture for the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland when she died of natural causes on April 17, 1988.
Royal Tide, wood and gold Spray Paint
Dawn’s Wedding Chappel II, Whitney Museum
Louise Nevelson with her art
“Only a few basic forms unify the art of all periods, the rest are variations.”
When you are centered, people can’t control you because they are your reflection. By the same token, you are their reflection.”
“Black creates harmony and doesn’t intrude on the emotions.”
“But when I fell in love with black, it contained all color. It wasn’t a negation of color. It was an an acceptance…Black is the most aristocratic color of all…You can be quiet and it contains the whole thing. “
“Everytime I put on clothes, I am creating a picture.”
“When I look at the city from my point of view, I see New York City as a great big sculpture.”