This exhibition highlights the work of eight influential women artists spanning a period of ninety years, from 1930 to 2020. Vanessa Bell, Prunella Clough, Jane Freilicher, Maryalice Huggins, Kazuko Inoue, Joan Mitchell, Alison Turnbull and Emma Williams share a remarkable color sense. While hanging the exhibition, it struck us how all the works, whether collage, lithographs, works on paper or oil on canvas, hang well alongside one another. They share the language of color and, of course, composition. Kazuko Inoue captures it best, “Good painters understand the importance of composition and color.”
The earliest work is a Post-Impressionist oil pastel on paper by Britain’s renowned Bloombury Group member Vanessa Bell. Her sister was literary lion Virginia Wolf. View out the Window dates to 1930. At the time she and Duncan Grant collaborated on interiors and textiles for their Bloomsbury Workshop.
Jane Freilicher’s Phlox was painted in 1964. Represented by Tibor de Nagy Gallery during her lifetime and now by Kasmin Gallery, Freilicher’s ethereal painting is simultaneously representational- a still life of flowers in a glass vase – and abstract. A student of Wolf Kahn and dear friend of Fairfield Porter, Freilicher is known as a colorist. The shades of pink in this oil on canvas are achingly beautiful. Her paintings, whether done at her New York City apartment or her home in Water Mill on Long Island, are unapologetically concerned with domesticity.
Joan Mitchell’s two lithographs from her POEMS series and Kazuko Inoue’s Untitled are fine examples of New York School Abstract Expressionism. Mitchell is widely acknowledged as the leading woman artist of first-generation Abstract Expressionism. Her canvases of expressive, explosive brushwork and gorgeous color command record prices. These two lithographs share the same unparalleled color sense. Kazuko Inoue exhibited with legendary gallerist Alan Stone for fifteen years. He, probably more than any other dealer, put the Abstract Expressionists on the map. A second-generation Abstract Expressionist, Inoue’s work is always vibrant and colorful. Rich, lush colors are juxtaposed in her abstract paintings to create exciting and satisfying compositions.
Prunella Clough, Alison Turnbull and Emma Williams are Modern Brits. Clough is the most famous. She was a ground-breaking woman artist who is regarded as one of Britain’s most important 20th century artists. In 2007 the Tate Modern celebrated her work with solo retrospective. Although only 7 ¼ x 9 ¼ inches, Clough’s Blue Day, 1974 has wall power and its’ blue color is electric. The serene, pale pink and white in Untitled, 1989 by Alison Turnbull are effectively punctuated by the blackish blue borders. Peonies and Limes by the Tower by Emma Williams is in the vein of well-known older Modern Brits like Elizabeth Blackadder, Mary Fedden and Alfred Wallis who all use flattened perspective, color, pattern and decoration. The soft palette reflects the diffuse, soft light of coastal England.
Last, but not least, is Maryalice Huggins’s remarkable Apparition from 2021. This mixed media collage is imbued with exquisite color. A Newporter with an impressive CV, including author and a long career in the Decorative Arts, her art is world class.