Sparkling Amazons: Abstract Expressionist Women of the 9th St. Show
October 6, 2019 – January 26, 2020


Sparkling Amazons
presents the often-overlooked contribution by women artists to the Abstract Expressionist movement and the significant role they played as bold innovators within the New York School during the 1940s and 50s. Through the presentation of some 30 works of art alongside documentary photography, the exhibition captures an important moment in the history of Abstract Expressionism.

The catalyst for this project is the groundbreaking 9th St. show arranged by avant-garde artists with the help of the fledgling gallerist, Leo Castelli in 1951. The show became a pivotal moment for the emergence and acceptance of Abstract Expressionism. The artists of the 9th St. show had struggled to gain critical recognition having been shut out by museums and galleries due to the radical nature of their work. Of the more than 60 artists in the show, including many who were to become prominent figures in Abstract Expressionism, only 11 were women. This is the first time works by these extraordinary women will be brought together since the 9th St. show took place 68 years ago.

In the early 1970s, the preeminent editor and art critic, Thomas Hess, would refer to them as “sparkling Amazons.” These women would neither have viewed themselves as “Amazons” nor as feminists; they simply worked and lived as artists, pursuing their professions with the same dedication as their male counterparts even though the social stakes were much higher for them at the time. Several of the artists, including Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Elaine de Kooning and Helen Frankenthaler went on to have distinguished careers and have found their rightful place in the art historical canon. Others, including Grace Hartigan, Perle Fine and Anne Ryan, enjoyed critical success. The remainder, Sonia Sekula, Day Schnabel, Jean Steubing and Guitou Knoop are yet to be fully recognized by art history, a fact that this exhibition addresses.

Curated by Associate Curator, Michele Wijegoonaratna, PhD.The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with support from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

Click here to view the press release.

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Support for this exhibition has been provided by the Katonah Museum of Art's Sparkling Amazons and Sponsors.

                                              SPARKLING AMAZONS
John Abbott Vanessa Diebold Betty Himmel Sally Righter
Kathy Abbott Judy Evnin Stan Kogelman Dyan Rosenberg
Mary Lou Alpert Michael Gitlitz Janet Langsam Mark H. Rosenberg
Mary Barnes Marilyn Glass Rita Landman Rochelle C. Rosenberg
Mary Lou Beitzel Ginny Gold Katherine Moore Linda Schoenthaler
Carol Bouyoucos Bob Grimes Victoria Morris Sarah Schupf
Inge Brouard Brown Ellen Grimes Deborah Mullin James Snyder
Gail Bryan Marika Herskovic Linda Nordberg Betty Stern
Tara Coniaris Thomas Herskovic Yvonne Pollack Judy Widmann
Tina Davis      

Image Credits:
Homepage main image: Helen Frankenthaler, Seascape with Dunes, 1962, oil on canvas, 70 x 140 in. (177.8 x 355.6 cm), Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection, Gift of the artist, 1963.2, © 2019, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Sonja Sekula, Pour l'Animal Noir, 1945, ink and gouache on paper, 12  x16 1/2 in. (30.5 x 41.9 cm), Courtesy Peter Blum Gallery, New York
Elaine de Kooning, Bullfight, 1959, 77 3/8 in. x 130 ½ in. (197.7 x 331.47cm) Denver Art Museum Collection: Vance H. Kirkland Acquisition Fund, 2012.300 © Elaine de Kooning Trust. Photography courtesy of the Denver Art Museum


Rotem Reshef: ARCADIA
October 6, 2019 – January 26, 2020

In ARCADIA, Israeli artist Rotem Reshef has collected organic materials, some from the KMA grounds, to paint monumental rolls of unstretched canvas that are suspended from the walls.The marks and vibrant palette which saturate the entire surface reference the natural world, and the gesture of pouring paint reveals her unconventional artistic process that filters and redefines abstraction and expression.


Sculpture: Michele Oka DonerSeptember 2019 – September 2020

Michele Oka Doner is an internationally renowned artist whose career spans four decades. The breadth of her artistic production encompasses sculpture, furniture, jewellery, public art, functional objects and video.

Her current installation at the Katonah Musuem consists of two bronze sculptures – Mana and Primal Self Portrait. Part human, part divine, part tree and part mineral, these headless and armless bronzes are at once commanding, monstrous, riveting, even humorous.  Fashioned from roots and vines collected by the artist, cast in bronze using the lost wax method and finished with rich earth-toned patinas, these figures demonstrate Oka Doner’s lifelong study and appreciation of the natural world.

Mana continues the artist’s lifetime dialogue that focuses on ushering nature into art, exploring the rich convergence between the human and natural world. Unsettling and imposing, Mana mixes construction and deconstruction, vitality and decrepitude.
Gregory Volk: A Knit of Identity: On the Nature-Based Art of Michele Oka Doner

Primal Self Portrait has rather thick, even impenetrable, hermetically opaque skin. Layer upon layer of texture forms a protective shield of formidable skin. While deeply scarred, as the vertical striations imply, the skin of the female remains unbroken enough to suggest invulnerability, the indomitability of the female body, however nakedly exposed to the prying eyes of the world.
Donald Kuspit: Skinned Alive: Michele Oka Doner’s Bio-Figuration

Her work encompasses materials including glass, bronze and silver and in a variety of scales – mirroring the world around her – from the small and intimate to the large and more imposing. Michele is well-known for creating over 35 public art installations throughout the United States and in Europe, including Radiant Site at New York’s Herald Square subway (1987), Flight at Washington’s Reagan International Airport and A Walk on the Beach at The Miami International Airport (1995-2010) which features 9000 bronze sculptures inlaid over a mile and a quarter long concourse of terrazzo with mother-of-pearl – it is one of the largest public artworks in the world.

Michele Oka Doner was born and raised in Miami, Florida and studied at the University of Michigan, where she received her undergraduate and MFA degrees, as well as an honorary doctorate. Oka Doner moved to New York City in 1981 where she maintains a studio. Her work is included in major public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Victoria and Albert, among others.


Michele Oka Doner
Primal Self Portrait, 20008
Cast bronze, patinated, red iron oxide
Edition 1 of 3
Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough, New York and London
Michele Oka Doner
Mana, 2015
Cast bronze, patinated
Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough, New York and London



Sculpture: Ronald BladenSeptember 2019 – September 2020

After a competition that included entries by Richard Serra and Claes Oldenburg among others, the important European collector and gallery director Alfred Schmela commissioned Bladen to create Flying Fortress to stand in front of the engineering school at the University of Düsseldorf. The project was cancelled after Schmela’s sudden death. Bladen wrote tellingly of Flying Fortress at the time of the commission, “The motivation of this form was to produce the illusion of a stationary object moving through space yet anchored to the earth. Not to give one that much time to dwell on it but more to feel as it rushes by. There is a front and a back and two sides but only one direction.”

Ronald Bladen (1918–1988) was regarded as an artistic forerunner by Minimalists like Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt and Carl Andre. But in contrast to the matter-of-fact work of these artists, Bladen’s sculptures are charged with emotional power. Their themes include the force of gravity, the dynamism of planar surfaces, the impact of scale and confrontation with the viewer.

Ronald Bladen
Flying Fortress, 1974-1978
Painted Aluminum
Edition 1 of 3
Courtesy of Loretta Howard Gallery, New York

Host of the Ellipse is notable for the difference between its two elements. Both parts, executed in aluminum and painted semi-gloss black, comprise trapezoidal lower areas that have deep notches cut into them. From these trapezoids, blade-like arms extend, one vertically while the other projects horizontally. Bladen referred to them as “two dancers.” Indeed, the vertical and horizontal projections, like gestures into space, remind us that modern dance influenced Bladen’s sculptures throughout his career.

Ronald Bladen
Host of the Ellipse (Mid Scale), 1981
Painted aluminum
Edition 1 of 3
Courtesy of Loretta Howard Gallery, New York