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University of the Arts Hosts First Group Exhibition of Women's Pop Art
"Black Rosy" or "My Heart Belongs to Rosy" by Niki de Saint Phalle, 1965, material, wool, paint and wire mesh, 89 x 59 x 33 1/2 inches.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg are names synonymous with the Pop Art movement of the 1950s and ’60s. Drexler, Webber and Chryssa, however, are far less familiar: they are members of the lost legacy of female Pop artists.

Like their male counterparts, these and many other women artists enjoyed long careers creating Pop Art. And like the work of men in that movement, their work was characterized by themes drawn from popular culture: advertising, comic books and mundane objects. Yet they are not mentioned in the same conversations with their male counterparts. Is this discrepancy because Pop Art by women didn’t sell in galleries or because the galleries didn’t feature their work because it didn’t sell? Was there some sort of artistic “glass ceiling?”

“Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958 – 1968,” the first major exhibition of female Pop artists, will be presented at the University of the Arts January 22 – March 15, 2010, taking aim at these questions in an attempt to more accurately reflect the depth of women’s contributions to Pop Art.

“Traditionally, Pop Art has been defined and dominated by small group of Anglo-American male artists,” said exhibition curator Sid Sachs, who has been developing the exhibition for six years. “This show expands this narrow definition and re-evaluates the critical reception of Pop Art. Many of these artworks have not been shown in four decades.”

“Seductive Subversion” features Marisol’s “John Wayne” sculpture, commissioned by Life magazine for an issue on movies; “Black Rosy,” an eight-foot-tall “Nana” sculpture exploring the role of women, by French sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle; Rosalyn Drexler’s oil and acrylic works “Chubby Checker,” the basis of which was the poster for the movie “Twist around the Clock,” and “Home Movies,” which is broken in to frames from old gangster movies; the Times Square-inspired “Ampersand,” a multi-layered stylized and illuminated neon ampersand in a Plexiglas cube by Chryssa, one of the first artists to utilize neon in her work; and 17-foot-long triptych by Idelle Weber.

Paintings and sculptures by Pauline Boty, Vija Celmins, Dorothy Grebenak, Kay Kurt, Yayoi Kusama, Lee Lozano, Mara McAfee, Barbro Ostlihn, Martha Rosler, Marjorie Strider and Alina Szapocznikow are also featured in the show..

The University has secured loans of artwork from the National Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.) and Neuberger Museum (Purchase, N.Y.) and major private collectors.

The University’s director of exhibitions, Sachs has been researching Pop Art, Fluxus and Minimalism for years and a great number of his exhibitions have reflected this, including “Pop Abstractions” at the Pennsylvania Academy for the Fine Arts in 1998 and exhibitions of work by Drexler and Robert Crumb at the University’s Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery. But it was a 2002 Yvonne Rainer retrospective at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery that sparked his interest in the lack of acknowledged women Pop artists.

“After the Rainer show, I wanted to know what happened to the rest of this generation of women artists,” Sachs said. “There was an entire missing entire generation of women artists. This exhibition came out of pure curiosity of what really happened. This is the first exhibition in the world to examine this.”

“Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958 - 1968,” was organized by the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts. This project has been funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, with additional support from the Marketing Innovation Program. A documentary film by Glenn Holsten is being funded by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, with additional support from the Marketing Innovation Program. Additional funding for the film is generously provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Quaker Chemical Foundation. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

University of the Arts | Pop Art | Seductive Subversion | Pauline Boty | Vija Celmins | Dorothy Grebenak | Kay Kurt |

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