Friday, November 21, 2008

Exhibitions: Ruth Weisberg at Norton Simon Museum

Exhibitions: Ruth Weisberg at Norton Simon Museum
by Samuel D. Gruber

(ISJM) Two years ago the Skirball Museum mounted a impressive exhibition of Los Angeles artist Ruth Weisberg's work that demonstrated her importance as a Jewish artist and as feminist (see my review). Now for something completely (almost) different, The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California has mounted an exhibition of 20 Weisberg works inspired by the Museum's dramatic Baroque masterpiece by Guido Cagnacci, Martha Rebuking Mary for Her Vanity painted after 1660. Like much of the art shown at the Skirball, these works demonstrate Weisberg's love of figure painting, but even more than the explicitly Jewish works - which placed her in a cultural continuum - these works show Weisberg situating her work in an art historical - and specifically painterly - tradition.

Contemplating Cagnacci, Weisberg has created a series of paintings, monumental drawings and monotypes in which the moral and compositional complexity of the Baroque work is deconstructed; she imagines how the 17th century Italian went about creating his work - she explores all the pieces,and reinterprets them with her own brush, in her own voice. Repentance, anger and the triumph of virtue over vice are themes that Weisberg explored to some extent in her Scroll and other Jewish works about the Patriarchs and other biblical character. Here she turns her eye to the themes in a theatrically presented Christian moralizing work, re-presents them through in her more contemporary figurative and color style.

Read more here.

The exhibition will be on view until March 2, 2009. Weisberg, who is Dean of the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, is a past president of the College Art Association (CAA). CAA will meet in Pasadena in February, so members will have a chance to see Weisberg's newest work.

Looking Back, 2008

Mixed Media Drawing on Paper

30-1/2 x 22-1/4 inches

Courtesy of Ruth Weisberg

La Citta Ideale, 2008

Oil and Mixed Media Painting on Canvas

48 x 64 inches

Courtesy of Ruth Weisberg

Ruth Weisberg in her studio, 2008

Norton Simon Art Foundation; photo by Ramona Trent

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