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National Museum for Women in the Arts presents Fabulous! Portraits by Michele Mattei
Carmen de Lavallade, 2003. Archival ink print on cotton rag paper, 40 x 30 in.© Michele Mattei.
WASHINGTON (AP).- The National Museum of Women in the Arts presents Fabulous! Portraits by Michele Mattei, a selection of photographs from her portrait project featuring women artists and philanthropists who have shaped contemporary culture. Among those photographed are Louise Bourgeois, Faith Ringgold, Sonia Rykiel, Betye Saar and June Wayne. The exhibition is on view through January 13, 2013.

Born in France in 1952, Michele Mattei’s career began in journalism then evolved into photojournalism and later into fine arts photography. Since the beginning she has explored different ways of telling people’s stories. While chronicling individuals who faced a range of civil and social hardships in South America in the 1970s, she became fascinated by the story of the individual and was drawn to the narrative power of images. Inspired by the photojournalists she worked with, Mattei took up the camera herself and has worked as a photographer since the late 1980s.

Mattei’s inspiration for Fabulous! originated from a conversation she overheard between two older women. Intrigued she wondered, “Who will I be at eighty? How can the spirit stay youthful? Who do I want to emulate?” With her idols in mind, she developed a list of women artists, focusing on the work they were producing in their later years. Through photographing and interviewing each of the women, she was able to fuse fine art and journalism.

Mattei’s process is specific to the individual subject. She immerses herself into their lives asking questions about their career and accomplishments. The result is an intimate portrait informed by the dialogue between the subject and photographer.

Portraits of Lillian Bassman, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, Carmen de Lavallade, Bette Bao Lord, Agnes Martin, Isabelle Stevenson, Sonia Rykiel, Beatrice Wood, and Eva Zeisel round out the exhibition.





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