seeing double
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Charles Bernstein

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Seeing Double

Susan Bee & Miriam Laufer


Opening Thursday, February 9, 6-8 pm
Exhibition February 7 - March 4
A.I.R. Gallery, 511 West 25th St., New York
Tues.-Sat. 11-6   212-255-6651

Gallery I. Philosophical Trees: New Paintings by Susan Bee
Gallery II. Paintings by Miriam Laufer from the 1960s and 1970s

Seeing Double is a two-person show of paintings by Susan Bee and her mother, Miriam Laufer (1918-1980).  The show is accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Johanna Drucker and a new web site devoted to the work of Miriam Laufer. Susan Bee's web site has been updated to include new works from the show.

Susan Bee's postmodern eclecticism and Miriam Laufer's 20th-century figurative abstractions (including oil paintings on windshields from the 1970s) make a sharp and exhilarating  addition to the mainstream canon. As Drucker writes in her catalog essay: "Bee is as much the artistic daughter of Pop and Surrealism as she is Laufer's direct artistic descendent, and yet their bodies of work have something in common. Both are painters who create voluptuous works, visually rich and sensually satisfying. And both are painters whose pictures provide pleasures and provocation for the mind as well as eye. And both produce works of engaged and distinctly feminist sensibility, concerned with the imagery of self and female others in the iconography of mainstream culture. ... Much has changed and much has not in the fifty-year span of activity represented in this exhibition. Women still struggle with an art world rooted in ageist, gendered politics, but women have also made their own place and legitimacy, their own authoritative discourse and sites, within that world."

Bees new series of collaged oil paintings, Philosophical Trees uses the traditional motif of the tree of life with its organic trunk and branches as a structure for cultural references to everything from Blake, film noir, pin-ups to mystical traditions such as the Kabbalah. These paintings are characterized by their wry humor and light ironies, as well as by the curiously combinatory assemblage of "things" and "pictures" in and on the canvas. Hardly surprising to find that Thomas McEvilley described Bees work as a "triumph of contradiction" (Art in America, Dec. 2000).
See also: Joshua Cohen review in The Forward

Miriam Laufer was raised in Berlin and Palestine. She studied at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem and lived in NYC from 1947 to 1980. She had numerous solo shows in NYC in the 1960s (at the Phoenix Gallery on 10th Street) and 1970s. She was an early supporter of the Feminist Art Movement. Her last solo show was a retrospective at the Phoenix Gallery in 1981.

Susan Bee has had solo shows at A.I.R. Gallery, Kenyon College, Columbia University, and Virginia Lust Gallery. She is the coeditor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists Writings, Theory, and Criticism. Granary Books has published her artist's books, most recently, The Burning Babe and Other Poems by Jerome Rothenberg. She teaches in the School of Visual Arts MFA in Art Criticism program.

[source: Press Release for the show]


[Jan. 27, 2006]  


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