Women: 4. THE PRIME OF LIFE 1900 to 1950

 

 

Large changes in artistic idiom after 1900 tracked through the representation of the human form as it did through all traditional subjects

As the century turned, the two most influential works of art  –  for subject matter and idiom and for the expansion of the use of colour  – were probably these: 

 

 

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, oil on canvas. 

Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, Spanish.  MOMA, NY

 

 

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Dance (I), 1909, oil on canvas. 

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, French.  MOMA, New York

 

 

 

Their work was built, in great part, on the edifice constructed by Paul Cézanne, 1839-1906, French)

 

a generation older than Matisse and almost two older than Picasso, Cézanne pushed towards an abstracted figuration in his paintings of people

which produced, not a fleeting impression, but a concentration, a distillation, of the object, landscape, or figure seen. 

 

Les Cinque Baigneuses (below) is said to be a primary source for Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. 

Matisse, when he was a young man, bought, on installment, one of Cézanne’s paintings of bathers. He kept it for almost 40 years.  

He studied it and drew from it, he said, the moral courage to sustain his revolutionary trajectory through the use of colour and form.

 

 

 

Five Bathers (Cinq baigneuses)

Five Bathers (Cinq Baigneuses), 1877–1878. Oil on canvas.

 Paul Cézanne, 1839-1906,  Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia 

 

 

 

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Portrait of a Woman, c. 1900, oil on canvas. 

 Paul Cézanne, 1839-1906.  Private collection on loan to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC in 2018

 

 

 

 

Gertrude Stein, 1905-1906, oil on canvas. 

Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, Spanish.  ?Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

 

 

 

 

A third important development came from the mind of Marcel Duchamp who moved the artistic compass from art as the creation of material objects representing the reality of the world as the artist sees it

 

towards art as concept representing mental constructions of the world as the artist’s mind formulates them.

 

 

 

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The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), 1915-1923, oil, varnish, lead foil, lead wire, and dust on two glass panels. 

 

Marcel Duchamp, 1887-1968, American born France. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 

The artist’s published notes say that this is a work describing a constant state of sexual frustration. 

The top half of the glass is the Bride’s Domain.

The lower half belongs to the Bachelors – the Bachelor Apparatus – men and various artifacts – all with meanings in the artist’s private lexicon – whose intended uses are for the capture of the bride.

 

The artist began making this work as soon as he reached New York.  It took him 8 years to make. It was shattered in transit and the artist meticulously patched up the glass, contented with what he thought of as a fortuitous completion. 

 

 

Here is Marcel Duchamp’s Bride fleeing downstairs, away from the bachelors pursuing her,

 

away from from the socio-political and religious constraints which have held women in  places not of their own choosing since time immemorial.

 

 

 

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Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912, oil on canvas. 

Marcel Duchamp,1887-1968, American born France. Philadelphia Art Museum

 

 

 

The Cubists came to shatter and reconstitute the image of the human body in the context of a world war which shattered and reconstituted the map of Europe and of Russia.

 

Female Nude, 1910, oil on canvas. 

Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, Spanish.  ?Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

 

Followed by artistic experimentation of many kinds in Europe and in Russia;

until, at mid-century,

 

the Abstract Expressionists, beginning their own experimentations in New York, rejected figuration and threw realism into deep shadow.

 

 

Throughout these first 50 years of the 20th century, realism and figuration and modernist experimentation co-existed but kept distant company.

 

 

 

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This painting has two names:  The Woman with Red Hair and Green Eyes, and Sin, 1902, lithograph printed in yellow, red and green. 

Edvard Munch, 1863-1944, Norwegian, MOMA, NY

A piece of pure Symbolism, the sin in question being the quality of some women known to some men as ‘femmes fatales’.

 

 

 

 

Bather, 1908-1909, oil on sand.

  Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, Spanish. MOMA, NY

 

 

 

The Bush, 1910-1911, oil on canvas. 

Marcel Duchamp,1887-1968, American born France. Philadelphia Art Museum

 

 

 

 

Hope 2, 1907-1908, oil, gold, platinum on canvas. 

Gustav Klimt, 1862-1918, Austrian.  MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

 

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Self-portrait with Flowers in Her Raised Left Hand, 1907, oil on canvas. 

Paula Modersohn-Becker, 1876 -1907, German.  MOMA, New York

 

 

 

 

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Street, Dresden, 1908, reworked 1909, oil on canvas.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1880-1938, German. MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

 

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Facing Each Other At Last, The Girl White, Shaking, Her Eyes Flaming, 1909,

an illustration in oil on canvas by Gayle Porter Hoskins, 1887-1962, American.  The book was written by Eliabeth Dejeans.

 

Sexual harassment at the office.  Never-ending.

 

 

 

Portrait of Gertie Schiele, 1909, oil, silver, gold-bronze paint, and pencil on canvas. 

Egon Schiele, 1890-1918, Austrian. MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

 

The House Maid, oil on canvas, 1910. 

William McGregor Paxton, 1869-1941, American.  Corcoran Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

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Head, c. 1910, oil on canvas over cardboard. 

Alex von Jablensky. 1864-1941, Russian active Germany.  MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

Mme. Kupka Among the Verticals, 1910-11, oil on canvas.

  Frantisek Kupka, 1871-1957, Czech. MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

Repose, 1911, oil on canvas. 

John Singer Sargent, 1856-1925, American.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

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Portrait (Dulcinia), 1911, oil on canvas. 

Marcel Duchamp, 1887-1968, American born France.  Philadelphia Art Museum

 

 

 

 

 

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Interior with Woman at a Piano, 1912, oil on canvas. 

Arthur B. Carles, 1888-1952, American. Baltimore Art Museum

 

 

 

 

 

Synchronist Nude, 1913, oil on canvas. 

Morgan Russell, 1886-1953, American.  Philadelphia Art Museum. 

Synchronism was a theory devised by the artist that colours of the spectrum can be used to elicit complex sensations.

 

 

 

Woman in a Chemise in an Armchair, 1913-1914, oil on canvas.  

  Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, Spanish. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

 

 

 

 

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Bath Houses, 1915, oil on canvas. 

William Glackens, 1870-1938, American.  Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington

 

 

 

 

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Frauenbildnis (Portrait of a Woman), 1917/18, oil and charcoal on canvas. 

Gustav Klimt, 1862-1918, Austrian.  On loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2015.

Thought to be a portrait of Maria Munk who shot herself at 24 in anguish over a love affair.

 

 

 

 

 

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Madame Kisling, c. 1917, oil on canvas. 

Amedeo Modigliani, 1884-1920, Italian.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

Head of a Woman, 1917, oil on panel. 

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, French.  I don’t recall its location

 

 

 

 

Woman with Red Hair, 1917, oil on canvas. 

Amedeo Modigliani, 1884-1920, Italian.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

Three Sisters with Grey Background, 1917, oil on canvas. 

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, French.  The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sita and Sarita, 1921, oil on canvas. 

Cecilia Beaux, 1855-1942, American.  Corcoran Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

 

 

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Romaine Brooks, 1874-1970, American

 

Romaine Brooks had an emotionally impoverished and abusive childhood and the fortune to come into an inherited mining fortune at 28. 

 

Before that time she moved, very poor, to Paris and Rome for artistic training.

 

After that time, she worked there and in London and Capri, returning from time to time to the United States. 

Her fortune allowed her to maintain a social circle in which her personal history, sexual orientation – she was a lesbian – and her living arrangements, which included a child placed in care when she was young, a white marriage and polyamory, if not hers than certainly of her lovers, were not condemned. 

 

She left a considerable number of paintings and drawings to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

 

 

 

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The Charwoman, 1904, oil on canvas.

Romaine Brooks, 1874-1970, American, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

 

 

 

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Dame en Deuil (Woman in Mourning), c. 1910 oil on canvas

Romaine Brooks, 1874-1970, American, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

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Romaine Brooks self portrait, oil on canvas, 1923.

Romaine Brooks, 1874-1970, American, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

 

 

 

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Peter, a young English girl (Hannah Gluckstein), c. 1923-24, oil on canvas

Romaine Brooks, 1874-1970, American, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

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Baronne Emile d’Erlanger, c. 1924, oil on canvas

Romaine Brooks, 1874-1970, American, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

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Una, Lady Trowbridge, 1924, oil on canvas

Romaine Brooks, 1874-1970, American, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

 

 

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Two Women, 1922, oil on canvas. 

Fernand Leger, 1881-1955, French.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

 

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Madame Picasso, 1923, oil on linen. 

Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, Spanish.  National Gallery of Art Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

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Self-portrait, 1919, lithograph. 

Käthe Kollwitz, 1867-1945, German.  Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

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The Green Blouse, 1919, oil on canvas. 

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947, French. Metropolitan Museum of Art

The artist’s companion (later wife), Marthe Boursin at a window overlooking the garden at Le Cannet on the Riviera.

 

 

 

 

Portrait of a Young Woman, 1913, drypoint. 

Jacques Villon, 1875-1963, French.  Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

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Prayer, 1920,  linocut on Japanese paper. 

Max Weber, 1881-1961, American born Poland. Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

Head, 1920, painted wood with glass beads on wire. 

Sophie Taueber-Arp, 1889-1943, Swiss. MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

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The Blue Armchair, 1923, oil on plywood panel.

  Guy Pene du Bois, 1884-1958, American.  The Philips Collection, Washington, DC

 

 

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Edward Hopper,1882-1967, American

 

Considered one of the foremost realist painters of his day, Hopper never left the realism with which he started painting.

 

 

 

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New York Interior, c. 1921, oil on canvas.   

Edward Hopper, 1882-1967, American.  Whitney Museum of (North) American Art, NY

 

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Apartment Houses, 1923, oil on canvas. 

Edward Hopper, 1882-1967, American.  Pennsylvania Museum of the Fine Arts

 

 

 

Study of Jo Hopper Reading, 1935, charcoal and graphite pencil on paper. 

Edward Hopper, 1882-1967, American. Whitney Museum of (North) American Art

 

Jo Hopper left a significant number of pieces by her husband, and much of her own work to the Whitney.  In an act of misogyny, the Whitney dispersed Jo Hopper’s own work without ever exhibiting it. 

 

 

 

 

Night Windows, 1928, oil on canvas. 

Edward Hopper, 1882-1967, American Whitney Museum of (North) American Art

 

 

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Gala Éluard, , 1924, oil on canvas.  Max Ernst, 1891-1976, French born Germany.  Metropolitan Museum, NY

Gala Éluard, was the wife of two Surrealists,  Paul Éluard and Salvador Dali; and the lover of Max Ernst who painted this from a photograph of Man Ray. 

This is thought to represent the Surrealism faith that art can unravel the mysteries of the unconscious mind.

 

 

 

 

 

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Aztec Josephine Baker, c. 1929, wire. 

Alexander Calder, 1898-1976, American.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

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Rose Hobart, 1934, oil on canvas

Luigi Luicioni, 1901-1988. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia

 

 

 

Self-Portrait, 1935, oil on board. 

Louise Nevelson, 1899-1988, American born Ukraine.  Jewish Museum, NY

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled (Woman’s Profile), 1936, Decalcomania (ink transfer) on paper. 

Marcel Jean, 1900-1993, French.  MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

 

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The Embroidered Blouse (Woman in Red Chair, oil on canvas, 1936.

  Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, French.  Baltimore Museum of Art

Astonishingly unrealistic, paw-like, enormous hands whose effect is to make us look closely at the painting to discover the reason so skilled an artist would do this.  I found no reason but felt impelled to come to rest in the strength of the sitter’s demeanor.

 

 

 

 

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Priscilla Roberts, 1916-2001, self-portrait, 1937, oil on canvas board. 

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

The Machine Guneress in a State of Grace, 1937, wood and metal. 

Hans Bellmer, 1902-1975, German.  MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

 

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Blues Singer, 1938, colour lithograph. 

Russell T. Limbach, 1904-1971, American.  Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

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The Double, 1938, oil on panel. 

Roberto Montenegro, 1881-1968, Mexican.  Philadelphia Art Museum

 

 

 

Three Women at the Spring, 1921, oil on canvas. 

Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, Spanish.  MOMA, NY

 

 

 

 

The Visitation 1941, gouache, ink and pencil on coloured paper. 

Romare Bearden, 1911-1988.  MOMA, NY 

The Visitation is an incident in the Christian New Testament in which the mother of St. John the Baptist, pregnant, visits her sister, Mary, who is herself pregnant with Jesus.  Grace was said to flow to the two of them as a result of this visit.

 

 

 

 

Proud Woman, 1941, pearwood and rope. 

William Steig, 1907-2003, American.  Jewish Museum, NY

 

 

 

 

 

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Birthday, 1942, oil on canvas.  Dorothea Tanning, 1910-2012, American. 

Philadelphia Art Museum

 

 

 

 

Stage Beauties, 1944, oil on canvas. 

Morris Hirschfield, 1872-1946, American born Poland.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

 

 

 

 

 

Woman Grinding Coffee, 1945, plaster, oil and tar with sand on canvas. 

Jean Dubuffet, 1901-1985, French.  Philadelphia Art Museum

 

 

 

 

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Self-portrait, 1946, oil and charcoal on canvas. 

Elaine de Kooning, 1918-1989, American.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

 

 

Head, 1947, terracotta. 

Elizabeth Catlett, 1915-2012, American active Mexico and the United States.  Whitney Museum of (North) American Art, NY

The representation of ‘ordinary’ people was a political statement for the artist who used traditional Mexican coil technique to create this work.  

 

 

 

 

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Easter Sunday in Harlem, 1947, gelatin silver print. 

Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1908-2004, French.  On display at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia in 2016

 

 

 

 

 

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Quappi in Gray, 1948, oil on canvas. 

Max Beckmann, 1884-1950, German.  Private collection on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY in 2017

 

 

 

 

 

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Wind from the Sea and detail, 1947, tempera on hardboard panel.

  Andrew Wyeth,1917-2009, American.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 

 

The museum noted that Andrew Wyeth considered this to be a portrait of Christina Olson (below) who had begun to have serious health problems from a degenerative nerve disease. 

He also considered that it to be a portrait of the decline of the Olson home, an 18th century structure in whose attic this curtain hung.

 

 

 

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 Christina’s World and detail, 1948, tempera on panel.

  Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009, American. MOMA, NY 

The most well-known of the painter’s works, MOMA, NY bought this painting in 1948 which it then considered not in its universe.  It was never loaned but it hung for years in a corridor with other ‘realist’ work of American mid-century artists.  Only now is it hanging in a gallery.

 

The artist is buried in the Olson family graveyard in Cushing, Maine.

 

 

 

 

 

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Woman, oil paint and enamel on fiberboard, 1948.

Willem de Kooning, 1904-1997, American born the Netherlands.  I don’t recall where this is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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