Friday, March 21, 2008


'Fleurs de Marronniers,' Loren MacIver, 1963

Thanks to Sharon Butler of Two Coats of Paint, I have discovered another role model:
There are indications that [Loren] MacIver was neither gormless nor self-abnegating when it came to her career. She certainly recognized that being a woman could affect it negatively. When she was in her late teens, she adopted a moniker that obscured her gender. MacIver scholar Jenni Schlossman discovered in the census records that MacIver was born “Mary Newman,” but changed “Mary” to “Loren,” and adopted MacIver, which is a variation on her mother’s maiden name, McIvers. Yet at bottom, her anti-theoretical stance appears to have been resolute and genuine. It seems to have set her apart and enhanced her persona as an outsider, a naïf in the edgy territory of Abstract Expressionist histrionics, loftiness, and, arguably, pretension. During the forties, her work was acclaimed for its honest exploration of domestic subject matter and its frank, unapologetically female viewpoint, but in the late fifties and sixties, her paintings lost much of their currency to Abstract Expressionism and later to Minimalism. Nevertheless, MacIver, unlike contemporaries such as Louise Nevelson and Lee Krasner, had no urge to drain her work of content customarily considered “female,” and refused to do so simply to be taken seriously in a decidedly masculine arena.

'La Bonne Table,' Loren MacIver, 1963

Like Sharon, I can't quite believe I never heard of MacIver before now. If I've seen any of her works in person I don't recall it; it's hard to tell from the photos what the paint quality, brushwork and luminosity really is, but I suspect it's fabulous.

Chalk up another one for the 'amended' art history books. Sigh.

'Studio,' Loren MacIver, 1983

Also, this week J. and I caught a performance of Bride at PS 122, which was a cut above most of the theatre and diverse 'performance' work we've been looking at, or for, this season. (We got a membership to one of those theatre-goers discount clubs, so life has been lively lately. :-)) The Lone Wolf Tribe, directed by Kevin Augustine, does a spang-up job of integrating puppetry, post-apocalyptic set design, live music, acting, and dance in a way that greatly transcends both the sum of its parts, and the conceit of assembling those parts in the first place.

One of my biggest chronic complaints about 'integrative' art is that it so often congratulates itself for having the audacity to combine such things as dance, theatre, puppetry and woodwind quartets, without paying much attention either to the artistic quality of each element on its own, or the way in which these elements work together to form a cohesive whole. This production leaped masterfully over this pitfall, living up to its stated intent of creating a 'visceral, gut-wrenching' piece of theatre. Although I found the ultimate conceptual thrust of the piece a little annoyingly predictable, having spent a few too many years in the Bay Area among the Burning Man crowd, the music alone made up for it. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Especially 'Fleurs'.