Electrical in Movement: American Women Artists at Work


Hawthorne Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening of its upcoming exhibition, Electrical in Movement: American Women Artists at Work. Featuring a diverse group of women artists who were active throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the exhibition seeks to examine the unexpected skill and dexterity which these women contributed to the profile of American painting. The paintings on view span two centuries, bridging a broad range of styles and subject matter: from familiar and fittingly feminine landscapes, fashion subjects and still-lifes, to unexpected scenes of cityscapes and city life rendered in modernist tones and technique, as well as genre scenes with typically masculine imagery, such as hunt and game subjects. In addition, works by three contemporary female artists will also be shown.

Visitors will be familiar with the traditional, academic modes of nineteenth century American art, such as the Hudson River School landscapes of Sophie M. Tolles (1831-1899), Edith W. Cook (act. 1851-1875) and Sarah Cole (1805-1857). These works resonate fittingly within the early American tradition: Tolles’s artful rendering of the Hudson highlands rivals that of her male peers, while Cook’s autumn landscape reflects the influence of her Hudson River School friends and mentors, and Cole’s allegorical scene directly references the work of the movement’s patriarch—and her brother—Thomas Cole (1801-1848). Late nineteenth century artists also include the genre painters Elizabeth Strong (1855-1941) and H. Sophie Loury (1858-1915), whose painstakingly-rendered hunt and game scenes distinguished them within a typically male-dominated genre. Portraiture and traditional still-life compositions further compliment the outdoor and landscape scenes: works by Edith Bowers (b. 1865), Maria Louise Kirk (1860-1938) and Laura Opper (1850-1924) illustrate the varied subject matter undertaken by women painters in the nineteenth century.

Juxtaposed with these traditional painters are their late nineteenth and early twentieth century counterparts, including Maud Mary Mason (1867-1956), Pauline Palmer (1867-1938), Alice Hirsch (1888-1935), Jane Jarvis Mumford (1878-1948) and Clara Perry (1870-1941), all of whom illustrate the strong influence of Impressionism on American painters in figurative, landscape and urban subjects. Mason’s impressionist composition is a dual still life and representation of urban life. Palmer’s portrait of a young girl is so rich in hue and lively in gesture that its subject’s personality is palpable. Hirsch’s nocturne of the Chrysler Building depicts the New York landmark with a penetrating atmospheric mood. Mumford’s rendering of two women during a sketching class provides a window into women’s leisure activity in the early decades of the twentieth century. And Perry’s emphatic representation of a dogwood tree in bloom illustrates the strength of her talent for color and texture.

Works by Marguerite Zorach (1887-1968), Alice Worthington Ball (1869-1929), Lilian Westcott Hale (1881-1963) and Maude Hunt Squire (1873-1955) illustrate further departures from traditional modes of academic painting as they utilize modernist trends and experimental composition: a watercolor-and-crayon salon scene by Squire—an American expatriate in Paris, and a frequenter of Gertrude Stein’s salons—is executed with the colorful jaunt of modernism; a Fauvist still life by Zorach challenges traditional notions of floral composition; a dreamlike pencil and charcoal drawing by Lilian Westcott Hale (1881-1963) conveys feminine versatility in diverse media; and a southern plantation scene by Ball—executed entirely with a palette knife and exhibited at the Casson Galleries 1923—subverts traditional technique entirely.

Treading against the modernist trends of the 1920s and 30s were artists such as Harriet Randall Lumis (1870-1953), who spiritedly advocated for realism and naturalistic representation in art. Contemporary artists include Mallory Agerton (b. 1956), Megan Bongiovanni (b. 1975) and Lauren Sansaricq (b. 1990).

When viewed together, these vastly distinct artworks underscore the breadth, depth, and complexity of the American woman-as-artist—from the early nineteenth century up until the present day—speaking to their deep passion for art and tremendous range of skill.

Of the exhibition, Managing Partner Jennifer Krieger says:

After my involvement with the exhibition, Remember the Ladies: Women of the Hudson River School, which took place at the Thomas Cole National Historic site in 2010, it is exciting to again single out the remarkable talents of American women artists. What I have enjoyed most in composing this show is experiencing the diversity of their aesthetic contributions, over a span of centuries, encompassing major movements and a wide range of subject matter, all handled with great success.

Electrical in Movement will be on view from November 19, 2015 through January 29, 2016, by appointment only. For more information or to arrange a viewing, please contact the gallery at info@hawthornefineart.com, or by phone at 212.731.0550

A full color printed catalogue will accompany the exhibition and is available upon request or viewable on the gallery’s website.


One thought on “Electrical in Movement: American Women Artists at Work

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s