Here’s wishing that art exhibitions would not have to be ghettoized and dedicated solely to women, like the Brooklyn Museum’s Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968, or MoMA’s women photographer show. (Not to mention compelling curators to craft awkward titles with dubious gender implications.) But the fact is, women have been filtered out of much of art history, whether from opportunities denied, prejudice, or any number of other reasons. Shows such as Seductive Subversion not only seek to redress these perceived wrongs, but bear the added, inherent bonus of showcasing work by unfamiliar artists whose work deserves serious attention.
Several artists’ names ring familiar: Faith Ringgold, Niki de Saint Phalle, Martha Rosler, Marisol, Yayoi Kusama. Others less so, but should be repeated until committed to memory. Like Rosalyn Drexler, whose paintings from circa 1963 set pop stars on geometric structures built of bold colors into highly satisfying compositions. Or Joyce Wieland, whose 1964 sculptures of compartmentalized plastic pouches feel like do-it-yourself kits for her dimensional sculpture, Young Woman’s Blues; and Chryssa, whose neon cent and ampersand signs toy with language and commerce, besides being mesmerizing. The show, which runs October 15 through January 9, was organized by the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
A mid-career survey of Fred Tomaselli’s work is one floor up at BMA, through January 2, including work from the last two decades. Tomaselli has developed a devoted following for his cool, sleek paintings using pharmaceuticals and botanicals embedded in satin-buffed resin. His more recent paintings have begun to feature bird imagery. His work can be appreciated on many levels: for its flawless technique, its night-sky palette, the perfect balance of geometry and metaphor, and for his obsessiveness. His paintings have, forgive me, a narcotic effect on the viewer.