December 26, 2007

85-year-old Grace Hartigan shows new work in Baltimore

"Grace Hartigan: New Painting," C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD. Through January 5.

In the Baltimore City Paper, Kate Noonan reports that Hartigan continues to explore familiar themes in her paintings of brides, starlets and reinterpretations of famous portraits from art history. "In addition to the art-historical paintings that dominate the exhibition, Hartigan continues to progress with other ongoing subjects, including the icons first portrayed in her series of paper dolls inspired by Tom Tierney's book 'Glamorous Movie Stars of the Thirties.' In 'New Painting,' she raises questions about racial and sexual stereotypes by depicting several actresses who were celebrated for their 'exotic' sensuality. Two dynamic images of minority women draw you in with their bold colors and dripping surfaces. The crimson and gold-washed 'Maria Montez' conjures the fiery sensuality of a hot-blooded Latin seductress, while the nude tones that compose 'Josephine Baker' allude to the former burlesque performer's erotic 'Danse Sauvage.' The graphic quality of the outlined figures and their names emblazoned on solid-colored backgrounds recall art deco advertisement posters, but as with her art-historical interpretations, Hartigan asserts her presence by undoing the precise flatness of the surface. By allowing paint to drip down the canvas, Hartigan creates an effect that is at once sultry and sinister, marring the perfect beauty that brought these women fame in their own time." Read more.

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