New York, 1109 5th Avenue & 92nd Street
Born into a wealthy German-Jewish family in Rochester, New York in the late 19th century, Florine Stettheimer studied art in Europe where many Americans set off for at the time to delve into bohemian avant-garde circles of Paris and Berlin before World War II. Upon her return, she became known for salons she organized with her sisters to bring together intellectual and artistic figures such as Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O’Keefe, and Bessie Smith. The Jewish Museum’s Painting Poetry sheds light on the artist’s influential role in the New York art scene for the first half of 20th century, a period when many creative figures fled war-torn Europe to relocate in New York.
Including 50 paintings, drawings, and costume and theatre sketches, the exhibition projects an expansive look at Stettheimer’s visual and narrative endeavors in her lavish paintings that usually depict her circle of friends and family. Underlining painting’s documentary potential at the time before the camera had become accessible, the paintings Stettheimer illustrated brim with colors and joy, while paying homage to her days in Europe where she was introduced to Modernism and particularly to Symbolist painting.
“Decades before other artists, Stettheimer depicted a number of challenging subjects that remain controversial and relevant today. Yet more than one hundred years after she painted the first ever full-length nude self-portrait by a professional woman artist, she continues too often to be described as an eccentric spinster, so disheartened by not selling her work at an early exhibition that she stopped exhibiting publicly and only showed her work to friends at her private salon,” wrote Barbara Bloemink in her 2016 Hyperallergic article titled Florine Stettheimer: Feminist Provocateur.
The exhibition runs through September 24, 2017.