artist / participant

press release

In 1970, the Jewish Museum presented Using Walls, an exhibition of commissioned artworks installed both within and beyond the gallery space of the museum's Warburg Mansion.

Forty-four years later, the museum revisits this idea in Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings, a series of artist commissions initiated in 2013. Artists from around the globe have been invited to create new art or adapt a work for placement in the Skirball Lobby. Installations will be changed twice each year through 2016. Past artists featured were Claire Fontaine (Tears), Mel Bochner (Blah, Blah, Blah), and Willem de Rooij (Bouquet XI). Future artists include Valeska Soares, Beatriz Milhazes and Alex Israel.

On view
Chantal Joffe: Hannah, Gertrude, Alice, Betty, Nadine, Golda, Susan, Claude, Nancy, Grace, Diane.....

Hannah, Gertrude, Alice, Betty, Nadine, Golda, Susan, Claude, Nancy, Grace, Diane..... is a series of 34 portraits by London-based painter Chantal Joffe, which will hang salon-style on two walls of the Skirball Lobby of the Jewish Museum.

Joffe has long focused on portraiture and, for this new body of work, she explores Jewish women of the 20th century. Personages who made major contributions to art, literature, philosophy and politics such as Diane Arbus, Nancy Spero, Gertrude A. Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Susan Sontag, and Hannah Arendt are represented as both children and adults. Implicitly included here are the women who perished during the Shoah, whose creativity and intellect were lost to history.

Joffe's style is direct and gestural. These are not exact or "true" depictions but charged with the artist's technical, conceptual, and emotional responses. As this group of subjects is no longer with us, Joffe conducted months of research on each of them, gathering together both well-known and obscure texts and images. Through this slow process of looking, reading, and watching, she built worlds around herself and the women, whom she has represented at various stages in their lives, during moments both big and small. Bringing together these historical figures creates a universal family album, a tribute to their contributions as well as inspiration for all those in the present, still able to leave their mark.