Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York City
November 2, 2023–March 29, 2024

Judith Barry’s work, DISPLACEMENT… is a sketch for a 2018 banner for the façade of the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. Since 2018, the number of people displaced from their homes worldwide has grown by 4%. The banner was based on drone shots of refugees fleeing North Africa. Barry’s studio also added many other faces reflecting a broader demographic. 

Photos of people fleeing war, drought and famine have been circulating on-line, haunting me for years. Looking up, these asylum seekers greet the drone with a mixture of relief and elation – even though the drone is unmanned and not human, and even though the resulting encounter is no guarantee of a rescue or entry into another country. This is especially poignant given that a drone sighting is often a harbinger of death. To me these images function like a banner when hung vertically, a beacon. Hopeful images of people transforming as they blend into the sky, becoming even more visible at the golden hour as day turns to night. So many faces in the clouds, they look just like you and me, beckoning us to a place beyond….

About the exhibition:
WOMEN is a group show that continues Nicole Klagsbrun’s working engagement with several artists and her decades-long commitment to presenting work made by women. Over the years, Klagsbrun has presented group and solo exhibitions with many of the artists in WOMEN, adding several key chapters to her gallery’s robust history.

Indeed, “Women” subtly echoes some of Klagsbrun’s early and important gallery exhibitions from the late 1980s and 1990s. In 1989, after serving as the director of Olsen Gallery and as a cofounder of Cable Gallery, Klagsbrun opened Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery at 51 Greene Street in SoHo. That year she presented Karen Kilimnick’s influential The Hellfire Club Episode of the Avengers, 1989, a sprawling installation related to a drawing by Kilimnick in this show. Riffing off the 1960s British television series The Avengers, Kilimnick’s The Hellfire Club Episode of the Avengers is composed of an arrangement of xeroxes, photographs, and props framed by velvet curtains and two drawings of British manor houses. Here, Kilimnick’s Int. Steed’s Apartment, 1998, appears as a metaphoric love letter to Harry Pottle, The Avengers’s art director.

In 1992, Klagsbrun organized the first New York solo gallery show for Candida Höfer. A color photograph in this show by Höfer, Kurmittelhaus Wenningstedt 1, 1979, depicts an empty public health spa flooded with light and chaise lounges. Maureen Gallace’s second solo New York outing in 1993, and Jay DeFeo’s debut in the city that same year, marked two more of Klagsbrun’s significant shows of the early 1990s. In this exhibition, two of Gallace’s paintings from 1999 epitomize the style she would pursue to great success. Additionally, DeFeo’s painting on paper Summer Landscape, 1982, foregrounds the dynamic abstraction that made her a pivotal figure in San Francisco’s thriving art scene. Judith Barry and Mary Beth Edelson had solo shows with Klagsbrun in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Here, Barry is represented by a new mixed-media piece, Preliminary Sketch for “Displacement,” 2017/2023, which foregrounds the global migration crisis, while an iconic Edelson drawing from her 1973 feminist series “Woman Rising” is on view. “Women” also features another assembly of women in situ: the small, flat dolls in Sana Musasama’s ceramic mixed-media I See Me series, 2021–22, which expresses self-respect and self-love. With movable legs and hair wrapped in glass beads, in these works Musasama references a valuable childhood lesson from her mother, who made a doll that looked like her, as she wanted to show her daughter the beauty of having black kinky hair. Of these sculptures, Musasama has stated, “after the pandemic and the shape in which we find the society/world, I wanted my next work to not only speak to the indomitable human spirit but joy and love. I want to honor the women that influenced me and the young girls I have mentored all my life.”1 In turn, “Women” is an homage to the many women Klagsbrun has worked with, too. Full list of artists: Ryoko Aoki, Judith Barry, Heidi Bucher, Cameron, Sarah Charlesworth, N. Dash, Jay DeFeo, Mary Beth Edelson, Katharina Fritsch, Maureen Gallace, Candida Höfer, Sheree Hovsepian, Karen Kilimnik, Turiya Magadlela, Ana Mendieta, Sana Musasama, Elaine Reichek, Mika Rottenberg, Brie Ruais, and Xaviera Simmons.