Joan Snyder: The female presence

Joan Snyder, Chant/Forever, 2018, lithograph, etching, and woodcut, 32.5 x 42.5 inches

Contributed by Sharon Butler / A small selection of Joan Snyder’s vigorous prints is on view at Anders Wahlstedt Fine Art in Chelsea through May 24. Made between the 1970s and 2018, the prints combine vivid color, repeated text, incised line, and a love of experimentation that seasoned Snyder viewers will recognize, last seen in “Sub Rosa,” a 2015 painting solo at Franklin Parrasch. In the era of the #MeToo movement, Snyder’s older work, in which she rails against the patriarchy, suddenly has gained new relevance. If you thought we had entered a post-feminist era, think again.

Joan Snyder, Chant/Always, 2016, etching and woodcut, 32.5 x 42.5 inches

In a 2008 interview with Phong Bui published inThe Brooklyn Rail, Snyder discussed her early work:

The late ’60s was the very beginning of my own dialogue about a female sensibility. Those weren’t the words I was using when I made those paintings. I was making paintings that were, for me, about being a painter and being a woman, about trying to paint the internal, organic, anthropomorphic sense of being a woman and also about my own sexual awakening.

It was also my way of reacting against both Color Field painting and the dominance of minimalism during that period. I was using very funky non-art materials in my work like flock (crushed rayon), lentil seeds, fake leopard skin, wallpaper, glitter, even colored light bulbs. At the same time, during the early seventies, I was doing visiting artist gigs all over the country, slide lectures and crits. Art departments needed some female presence so they invited us as visiting artists. Keep in mind, at the time, I couldn’t get a job in any art department. They weren’t hiring women. I remember seeing works by young female students that excited me. They would explain that their teachers, who were all male, didn’t like, get or understand their work. This was about male faculty who absolutely did not comprehend our language, who didn’t get the concept of a female sensibility that was emerging at the time.

Joan Snyder, Altar, 2010, digital print, color lithograph, chine collé, color etching, color woodcut and collograph, 34 x 31.5 inches

In the prints on display at Anders Wahlstedt Fine Art, Snyder’s freewheeling combinations -lithography mixed with digital, chine collé, etching, woodcut, and more – reveal a degree of playful experimentation as well as wide-ranging virtuosity. At the same time, the urgent and sometimes crude mark making, particularly in the intaglio prints, conveys her passionate defiance. When she works with flower forms, for instance, Snyder rejects the beauty associated with traditional still life or landscape and cleaves to garish abstract form that often appears rooted in anger and agitation. In more recent prints, like Chant/Forever(2018), a softer palette imparts the sense of loss and despair many feminists are feeling in the age of Trump, who, in his first days in office, declared that “women must dress like women.” At the time, the statement was outrageous, but now it seems like the least of our problems.

Joan Snyder, Madrigal X from 33 Madrigals, 2001, color lithograph, monotype and color woodcut, 33.5 x 35.5 inches
Joan Snyder, …and acquainted with grief, 1998, color etching, aquatint, woodcut, and linocut, 41.5 x 59.5 inches
Joan Snyder, Field of Flowers from The New Provincetown Print Project Portfolio, 1993, monoprint (color etching, aquatint, woodcut, and pastel), 22.5 x 30 inches
Joan Snyder, Mommy Why?, 1984, woodcut hand-inked with oil paint, 20 x 26 inches
Joan Snyder, Things Have Tears and We Know Suffering, 1984, hand-inked color woodcut, 26 x 25.5 inches
Joan Snyder, Imagine, 1975, soft ground etching and sugar lift aquatint, 15 x 22 inches

From the press release: Born in 1940 in Highland Park, New Jersey, Joan Snyder’s work has been presented in more than 100 exhibitions since 1970.  Snyder’s art is represented in many leading American public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York Public Library,  The Jewish Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; the National Museum of Women in the Arts and The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Harvard University Museums, Cambridge;  Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco.  Snyder lives and works in Brooklyn and Woodstock, New York.

Joan Snyder / Selected Prints 1975-2018,”Anders Wahlstedt Fine Art, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through May 24, 2018.

Related Posts:
NY Times Art in Review: Joan Snyder
Sight reading: Joan Snyder’s first show with GERING & LóPEZ

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