Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Lyndhurst Presents Women’s Work On View May 26 through September 26, 2022

 

Lyndhurst Presents Women’s Work
On View May 26 through September 26, 2022  

 
This groundbreaking exhibition tracks the deep, pervasive, and continuing influence of the historic female domestic craft tradition in the practice of contemporary women artists and invites new investigations into the position of women in the contemporary art world
Top: Diningroom installation. Bottom Left: Gallery installation. Bottom Right: Bedroom Installation
Tarrytown NY: A groundbreaking new exhibition of historic and contemporary works by women artists fills the Lyndhurst Mansion and gallery this summer. Women’s Work includes more than 125 works of art in a variety of media by American women from diverse backgrounds utilizing artistic traditions that date back centuries.

Tracking the continuing influence of the 18th and 19th century domestic handcraft tradition in the practice of contemporary women artists, the exhibition explores how this embrace of feminine domesticity as an expression of gender-specific artistic identity has prevailed as a practice for women artists from the 1970s and 1980s to the present.

The exhibition was conceived by Lyndhurst director Howard Zar, and is co-curated by Nancy Carlisle, Senior Curator of Collections at Historic New England with consulting curator Rebecca R. Hart, the former Polly and Mark Addison curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum.

“In Women’s Work we are placing artworks from different centuries in conversation side by side in the domestic setting for which the historic works were originally designed,” says Zar. “By showing influences across time, whether specific or subtle, the exhibition offers viewers an opportunity to interrogate their own attitudes about art by women and invites them to contemplate the distinctions art critics have drawn between “craft” and “fine art”based on materials, gender or practice, that have served to diminish the work of women artists.”
Top left: Faith Ringgold, Brenda, 1976. Top Right: Unknown African American Maker, early 20th Century. Bottom Left Kiki Smith, Little Red Riding hood doll, 2002. Bottom Right Julia Beecher, Missionary Rag Baby, 1893-1910
Women’s Work is presented jointly with Historic New England, which has provided artworks from the 18th and 19th centuries to be exhibited alongside contemporary works. 

“Historic New England is delighted to be a part of this exhibition,” said Nancy Carlisle. “The juxtaposition of the historic contributions of women with contemporary women artists helps showcase the role women have had in the arts for centuries.”
 
A fully-illustrated catalog with essays by leading scholars and art historians, along with a symposium, on-line lectures and special guided tours accompany the exhibition. CATALOG PDF now available by request.
Left: Diego D'Estrada, Cameo Set, 1855-65, Right: Catherine Opie Self Portrait Nursing, 2019
BACKGROUND
Prior to the 21st century, women were taught and expected to master a broad variety of arts, home decoration, sewing and craft, collectively known as, “women’s work,” at a time when women were not allowed to hold professions outside the home. These crafts could be practiced as both hobby and home-based money-making venture. Women passed down this handiwork tradition over generations but because this artistic tradition was practiced in the home by women, it was generally viewed as inferior to the artistic traditions of painting and sculpture practiced by men, as their career.
 
As women started to emerge and be recognized as contemporary artists during the 1960s and1970s  (as opposed to the generation of the 1940s and 1950s who often had to subjugate their careers to those of their artist husbands) this new generation of women artists often found themselves engaged in deep explorations of gender identity. They often rejected the formal training that they received from male artists and made the radical choice to incorporate artistic traditions and techniques known to their grandmothers. This use of so-called handcraft traditions by contemporary women artists also inadvertently led to female artists being seen by critics as inferior and less worthy of exhibition and their work less highly valued by curators and collectors.
 
 
Left: Belle D. Grace and Murty Marie Grace, 1883-89. Right: Faith Ringgold, Feminist Series: Of My Two Handicaps #10, 1972
As trailblazing artist Harmony Hammond states in her artist’s statement about the late 1960s and 1970s, “Paintings were shaped, unstretched, draped, woven, flocked, stitched, bejeweled, and grommeted. Slowly, painting was subjected to the force of gravity, taken out of the rectangle and off the wall, relaxed, collapsed, and reconfigured. Feminism brought a gendered content to this way of working.”
 
The influence of historic traditions on contemporary artists becomes more apparent through the design of the exhibition, which places historic precedents next to contemporary works, often through the rooms of Lyndhurst mansion for which the historic works were originally intended.

For example, a 19th century dome-covered flower display will be juxtaposed with a dome-covered glass flower display created by Kiki Smith, both placed on a center table in the Lyndhurst parlor, the type of room for which such lavish decorations were originally conceived in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Left: Cindy Sherman, Soup Tureen, 1990  Right : Cecilia Thaxter Cup and Saucer, 19th century
Lyndhurst’s dining room has been set with examples of 19th century painted plates by Emily Cole, daughter of Hudson River painter Thomas Cole and by poet and artist Celia Thaxter displayed next to similar works by Judy Chicago and Cindy Sherman.  Antique quilts are shown with quilts by Faith Ringgold, Dindga McCannon and Jane Kaufman. Vintage Lingerie embroidered with rap lyrics by Zoe Buckman and a nightgown embroidered by Maira Kalman are displayed with similar embroidered vintage pieces that belonged to Lyndhurst’s female owners and are displayed on the Louis Vuitton “personals” trunk belonging to Anna Gould, Duchess of Talleyrand, Lyndhurst’s last owner.
 
The adoption of these techniques spans a surprisingly broad array. Works by Kara Walker using the medium of cut black paper silhouettes and Elaine Reichek’s use of early American samplers are visually indistinguishable from historic precedents but with a completely different interpretive intent. Liza Lou’s adoption of beadwork to create modern domestic objects and explore domesticity utilizes a medium historically practiced by both Native American and European-descended women but appear visually distinct from the historic precedents.  Jenny Holzer’s use of verbal platitudes as art is part of a long tradition but modernizes the medium from samplers, needlepointed pillows and watercolor fracturs to electronic LEDs.  
 
The exhibition is broadly representative, including 20th-century pioneers and artists who have become household names, mid- and late-career artists who have toiled for years with varied levels of public recognition, as well as younger artists. While the exhibition focuses almost exclusively on American artists, the participants include diverse races and religions.  
 
The exhibition opens to the public on May 26, 2022 and continues through September 26, 2022. Lyndhurst is located along the Hudson River in Tarrytown New York. Lyndhurst’s grounds are open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. All visitors must adhere to current CDC and NY State Covid-19 guidelines in place at the time of visit. for more information and directions see www.lyndhurst.org
About Lyndhurst 
Originally built in 1838, Lyndhurst is considered by many to be the most important American home of the 19th century. Designed by A.J. Davis, the Frank Lloyd Wright of the 19th century in Gothic Revival style, Lyndhurst was one of the first homes to be built in the Hudson Valley as a romantic retreat. Lyndhurst is situated on 67 magnificently landscaped acres on the widest part of the lower Hudson River. Lyndhurst is where the Hudson Valley begins. For more information visit www.lyndhurst.org. 

***UPDATES: The New York Times features Women's Work in the May 1, 2022 MUSEUMS section.  

THE EXHIBITION IS FULLY-INSTALLED. PDF of CATALOG AVAILABLE BY REQUEST.  FOR A PREVIEW PLEASE REACH OUT TO SCHEDULE A TIME TO VISIT.  janrothschild@gmail.com or call 917-891-1126

Lyndhurst is the site for the filming of the new HBO hit series Gilded Age. A main character in the series is based on Jay Gould, owner of Lyndhurst. Read a behind the scenes story of the filming HERE.

About Historic New England
Previously known as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA), Historic New England is the oldest and largest regional preservation organization in the United States.  Historic New England collects and preserves buildings, landscapes, and objects dating from the seventeenth century to the present and uses them to keep history alive and to help people develop a deeper understanding and enjoyment of New England life and appreciation for its preservation.
 
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