Miriam Schapiro

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Miriam Schapiro
A Tree in the House (for "Rondo")
Cut-and-pasted papers on paper.
24 x 18 inches (61 x 45.7 cm)
Gift from The Collection of Peter and Kirsten Bedford.

One of 24 mixed-media works for Rondo (2021.157:1-24).
Schapiro is a central figure of the American feminist art movement and a founding member of the Pattern and Decoration movement, which emerged in 1976 as an antidote to the rigors of conceptual art and in response to the denigration of craft in the art world. She began her career in New York in the 1950s as an abstract painter, but by the late 1950s she had begun to paint in a hard-edge style that merged abstract and figurative elements. In 1967, Schapiro moved to California, where she taught at UC San Diego and was introduced to the computer as a tool to create art. In 1970 she joined the faculty of the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. The following year she co-founded, with Judy Chicago, the Feminist Art Program. Beginning in 1972, Schapiro coined the term femmage for her collages combining acrylic paint and fabric, in which she focused on images typically associated with women and women's crafts, such as aprons, hearts, fans, and kimonos. Schapiro returned to New York in 1975 and began to hold workshops for women artists in her studio.
Dance, theater, and costume have been important themes in Schapiro's art throughout her career, but especially in the 1980s. Rondo, commissioned by Bedford Arts, Publishers, San Francisco, consists of twenty-four mixed-media works published as an accordion-fold book. Schapiro described her process, which involved live models, as "drawing" with scissors. The first eleven panels feature dancers, alone or in pairs. Two panels featuring a black-and-red checkerboard pattern serve as a transition to twelve collages and femmages that feature some of Schapiro's signature motifs, including kimonos and hearts. Schapiro described how she conceived the two sides of the book as complementary: "I created a series of dancers who move in a nospace on a nostage against a painted background or backdrop. ... On the return side, I collaged images on a flat plane ... still--not in motion--as if the dancers on the front had caught themselves concentrating on one thought, one image."

Peter and Kirsten Bedford, San Francisco.
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