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Chantal Joffe Portraits to Fill Jewish Museum Lobby, Begin. 5/1

Beginning May 1, two walls of the Jewish Museum's lobby will be filled with over 30 new portraits by the London-based painter Chantal Joffe. This body of work explores Jewish women of the twentieth century, focusing on those who made major contributions to art, literature, philosophy, and politics - including Diane Arbus, Nancy Spero, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Susan Sontag, and Hannah Arendt. Portraits of these women and others will be hung salon-style across two walls of the lobby. Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Chantal Joffe will be on view from May 1 through October 18, 2015.

Chantal Joffe has long focused on portraiture, and this new series, titled Hannah, Gertrude, Alice, Betty, Nadine, Golda, Susan, Claude, Nancy, Grace, Diane . . ., continues her direct and gestural style of painting. The portraits are not exact depictions, but are charged with the artist's technical, conceptual, and emotional responses. Joffe conducted months of research to gather information and generate personal connections to each subject. As part of this process, Joffe assembled well-known as well as obscure texts and images, and chose to represent the women at various stages of their lives. By bringing together such notable historical figures, Joffe has created a universal family album, a tribute to their contributions as well as an inspiration for audiences today. Implicitly present are the women who perished during the Shoah, whose creativity and intellect were lost to history.

This presentation is part of the Museum's ongoing Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings series, showcasing new works by artists from around the globe in the Skirball Lobby. The series builds on the Museum's 1970s program called Using Walls, which featured the work of 14 up-and-coming international artists of the time such as Richard Artschwager, Sol LeWitt, Richard Tuttle, and others both within and beyond the gallery space of the Warburg Mansion. Now, 45 years later, the Museum is revisiting this moment in its history by showcasing new work by emerging artists from around the globe. Since the launch in 2013, the series has featured work by Claire Fontaine, Mel Bochner, and Willem de Rooij.

The Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings series is organized by Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs, and Kelly Taxter, Assistant Curator.

L to R: Gertrude Stein, 2014, oil on canvas; Betty Friedan, 2014, oil on canvas; Diane Arbus, 2014, oil on board. Art © Chantal Joffe/Image provided by the artist, Victoria Miro, London, and Cheim & Read, New York.

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