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Revival presents contemporary women sculptors and photo-based artists whose arresting aesthetics and intense subject matter spur the viewer into a transcendent encounter with the art object. Spectacle and visual enchantment undergird much contemporary art. Yet the artists gathered here harness the illimitability of scale, technique, and effect in sculpture and photography explicitly to reanimate deep-rooted emotions related to the human experience. Their imagery elicits a ripple of exhilaration, a shiver of fear, or a wave of anxiety rather than merely tantalizing the eye.
Through highly allusive depictions of human and other animal bodies, each artist in Revival connects to the unconscious. Video projections, large-scale photographs, and hanging sculptures create immersive, mesmeric environments. Smaller, meticulously wrought works made from hair, yarn, velvet, wax, marble, brambles, or taxidermied birds draw the viewer close, beckoning toward sensations that spark memory and emotion.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts contemporary collection is rich in the mediums of sculpture and photography, which women continue to expand, recharge, and renew. A survey of the museums collection in its 30th year inspired this exhibition, which is enriched by important loans from public and private collections as well as artists studios. Featuring works by Louise Bourgeois, Petah Coyne, Lalla Essaydi, Alison Saar, Joana Vasconcelos, and others, Revival illuminates women who regenerate sculpture and photo-based art to profound expressive effect.
Image: Maria Marshall, Future Perfect, 1998; Iris print, 56 x 39 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.