NEW HAVEN.-The Yale Center for British Art opened the exhibit Art in Focus Student Guide Exhibition Figuring Women: The Female in Modern British Art
through June 8. Art in Focus is an annual academic initiative that introduces the Center's student guides to every aspect of curatorial practice, from the selection of the art works, to research, label-writing, and installation. With guidance Linda Friedlaender, Curator of Education, and Cassandra Albinson, Associate Curator of Paintings and Sculpture, student guides select an object or theme from the Center's collections that they would like to explore.
In this second year of the program, the curatorial challenge for the student guides was to design an exhibition showcasing highlights from the Center's collection of late-nineteenth through twenty-first-century paintings and sculpture. The students chose as their theme the image of women in British art, and traced a progression of ideas about their status in British culture as they were portrayed by artists the Victorian period to the present day. The exhibition highlights the Center's recent acquisition, the late R. B. Kitajs School of London Diasporists (1988-2004), which features an image of Kitaj's wife, the artist Sandra Fisher. Other artists, ranging in date the 1850's to today, include Ford Madox Brown, Edward Burne-Jones, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Gwen John, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and Lucian Freud. The exhibition concludes with an equestrian statue of Queen Victoria and Julie Roberts's provocative painting Gynaecology Treatment Couch (Blues) (1994). The students address several overlapping questions in their labels and in the installation: the position of the patron (who is invariably understood to be male), femaleness as performance, the commodification of the female body, and the tradition of drawing or painting the female model as part of a British artist's training.
The exhibition Figuring Women: The Female in Modern British Art is the first time that many of these paintings and sculptures have been displayed on the fourth floor of the British Art Center, where they will be seen under natural light and with the benefit of Louis Kahn's soaring ceilings. The design of the exhibition creates striking juxtapositions between works of art, rather than relying on a more traditional chronological display.
The student curators of the exhibition are Jenny E. Braun DC'08, Jessica Dilworth BK'10, Panda Ebling DC'08, Charles Gariepy TD'09, Andrew Lee BR'09, Sharon Madanes DC'08, and Adrienne Wong MC'10.