Posed & Composed: Portraits of Women from the Permanent Collection exhibition considers one of the most enduring subjects in the history of Western art: portraits of women.
This exhibition of twelve portraits by eleven American artists covers the period from just before World War I through the early 1980s. The paintings are not arranged chronologically, but according to commonalities in pose, gesture, color, composition, and subject matter. In being viewed outside their immediate historical contexts, they begin to speak to each other in new and unexpected ways.
Despite the diversity of the artists’ lives and experience, each remained true to the representation of the female form. By pursuing this focus well into the twentieth century, these artists at times positioned themselves in opposition to an avant-garde that increasingly favored non-representational abstraction.
Then again, the approaches used by the exhibition’s artists remained consistently inconsistent: the women they painted were assured and vulnerable, alluring and world-weary, feeling and indifferent.
Included in Posed & Composed are both familiar and unfamiliar highlights from the Museum’s collection. On view beside well-known works by Will Barnet, Alex Katz, and Larry Rivers are less frequently exhibited canvases from such notable American painters as Leon Kroll, Walt Kuhn, and Everett Shinn. Collectively, their art attests to the abiding vitality of the woman as artistic subject.