Georgia O’Keeffe, Florine Stettheimer, Marguerite Zorach, and Helen Torr found space for creativity that was separate from their male counterparts. Each created unique paintings, contributing to the evolution of experimental avant-garde works in Manhattan. Vivien Fryd, professor of history of art, will examine the art and careers of these four pioneering artists and their contributions to early American modernism in a July 14 lecture, “A Voice of One’s Own: Early American Women Modernists,” at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Fryd’s lecture is being held in conjunction with the current exhibition, “O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York,” on view through September 18.
In presenting works by these artists together and connecting their careers in New York City, this exhibition offers valuable perspectives on the meaning of modernism, the life of a working artist in New York in the early 20th century, and the shared and differing experiences of being women at a crucial moment in first-wave feminism.
Artists were radically breaking with all traditions in art, inventing a new visual language that responded to the experience of living in a new century. As creative ideas took hold in the sciences, modern artists created new ways of seeing the world through formal experiments. Fryd will explore the talents, relationships, privilege, and influences that enabled each woman to invent her own distinctive approach to modernism.