Gertrude Abercrombie
Aug 9 – Sep 23, 2018

Gertrude Abercrombie

Karma is pleased to present Gertrude Abercrombie’s first exhibition in New York since 1952. Abercrombie (1909–1977), a key figure in mid-century American Surrealism, was a sui generis artist who, from the late 1930s until her death, painted images populated by objects of personal significance – including moons, towers, cats, a barren tree, owls, hats, pennants, winding paths, grapes, bridges, Victorian furniture, shells, snails, and doors – to create allegories for her own often perilous emotional and psychological states. Often residing over these symbols was Gertrude herself, who appears in numerous pictures as proud observer, defiant actor, and witchy caricature.

This exhibition, comprised of loans from institutions and private collections, is the most comprehensive look at Abercrombie’s artwork in nearly three decades.

 

Gertrude Abercrombie

Gertrude Abercrombie

Gertrude Abercrombie

Abercrombie, the only daughter of Opera singer parents, grew up in Texas, Germany, and Aledo, Illinois, before settling in 1916 in Hyde Park, Chicago, where she spent the rest of her life. Aledo and its hills, ruins, and trees – the distinctly midwestern landscape she adored most – remained a constant in her work. She took art classes at the American Academy of Art and the School of the Art Institute. In 1933 she was appointed to the Public Works of Art Project (the first of the government supported arts programs), which gave her the time to find her subject matter and approach.

 

Gertrude Abercrombie

Gertrude Abercrombie

Gertrude Abercrombie

Abercrombie exhibited in Art Institute Annuals and galleries in both Chicago and New York in the 1940s and 50s and became the center of several overlapping circles of Chicago and midwestern culture. As Susan Weininger has written, “She thought of herself as the ‘other Gertrude’ who hosted a Chicago Salon including jazz musicians, writers, and artists; the liquor flowed freely and she presided imperiously as the self-appointed ‘Queen of Chicago.’” This salon, hosted in her spacious home on Dorchester Avenue, was remarkably progressive: Two of her closest artist friends, Dudley Huppler and Karl Priebe, were openly gay, and from the 1940s through the 1960s her domain was a safe haven for black musicians who needed a place to stay, practice, or just rest. Many, including Dizzy Gillespie, formed life-long relationships with the artist, who in turn referred to herself as a “Bop” artist. Gillespie later wrote: “Gertrude Abercrombie…has taken the essence of our music and transported it into another form.”

 

Gertrude Abercrombie

Gertrude Abercrombie

Gertrude Abercrombie

Abercrombie’s restrained palette and minimal compositions foreground her repeating imagery, which can be read as autobiographical puzzles that, if unscrambled, reveal a complicated, often tortured life, but one which begs examination and discussion. Just before she died, Abercrombie was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center. By then Abercrombie, who valued her own work, had made sure to keep or buy back many of her finest examples, which her Trust later distributed to museums around the United States, and in particular the Illinois State Museum. In typical poetic, tough, and funny form, when she spoke to Studs Terkel about attending her own 1977 opening, Abercrombie said she would “go out either in a blizzard or in a blaze of glory.”

Karma and Dan Nadel wish to thank Doug Stapleton and the Illinois State Museum, Jenny Gibbs and the Elmhurst Art Museum, Laura and Gary Maurer, and Susan Weininger for their support of this exhibition.

Karma has published a comprehensive monograph of Gertrude Abercrombie’s artwork, with essays by Robert Cozzolino, Robert Storr, and Susan Weininger, and an interview by Studs Terkel.

 

Gertrude Abercrombie
August 9 – September 23, 2018 / Karma
Please visit the exhibition page >

David van Dartel: This Time Tomorrow
Mar 7 – Apr 26, 2024
David van Dartel, acclaimed Dutch Artist, presents a curated selection of his first two captivating and exceptionally successful series,...
+
Truth Told Slant: Contemporary Photography
Mar 1 – Aug 11, 2024
This exhibition will feature the work of five photographers who take unique approaches to documentary photography that challenge the...
+
Alex Webb: Dislocations
Publication
Dislocations presents a contemporary update of Alex Webb’s long out-of-print 1998 book by the same name first published by...
+
Fight Against the Sea Rise
Participatory Public Action by Andrea Stefanelli
Tracing methods typical of conceptual art, of performance and participatory art, Stefanelli seems to welcome the lesson of De...
+
BAM Winter/Spring 2024
Jan 15 – Jun 9, 2024
Experience the power of artistic community with BAM’s program. As bands play, dancers whirl, voices raise, and audience members...
+
International Women’s Day / 2024
Artpil / Prescription .148
Founded over 100 years ago evolving through various names and dates, this fulcrum of women’s rights was adopted by...
+
Sony World Photography Awards 2024
Winners & Finalists Announced
This diverse selection of photographs in this annual award is a window to the world, revealing fascinating points of...
+
Two Years into Ukraine
ARTPIL / Prescription .147
More terrible is love in Kyiv than magnificent Venetian passions. Butterflies fly light and maculate into bright tapers. Dead...
+
David van Dartel: This Time Tomorrow
Mar 7 – Apr 26, 2024
David van Dartel, acclaimed Dutch Artist, presents a curated selection of his first two captivating and exceptionally successful series,...
+
Truth Told Slant: Contemporary Photography
Mar 1 – Aug 11, 2024
This exhibition will feature the work of five photographers who take unique approaches to documentary photography that challenge the...
+
Alex Webb: Dislocations
Publication
Dislocations presents a contemporary update of Alex Webb’s long out-of-print 1998 book by the same name first published by...
+
Fight Against the Sea Rise
Participatory Public Action by Andrea Stefanelli
Tracing methods typical of conceptual art, of performance and participatory art, Stefanelli seems to welcome the lesson of De...
+
BAM Winter/Spring 2024
Jan 15 – Jun 9, 2024
Experience the power of artistic community with BAM’s program. As bands play, dancers whirl, voices raise, and audience members...
+
International Women’s Day / 2024
Artpil / Prescription .148
Founded over 100 years ago evolving through various names and dates, this fulcrum of women’s rights...
+
Sony World Photography Awards 2024
Winners & Finalists Announced
This diverse selection of photographs in this annual award is a window to the world, revealing fascinating points of...
+
Two Years into Ukraine
ARTPIL / Prescription .147
More terrible is love in Kyiv than magnificent Venetian passions. Butterflies fly light and maculate into bright tapers.
+
  • Aria Dean: Abattoir
    Feb 8 – May 5, 2024
    ICA
    London, UK

    Aria Dean: Abattoir is the New York-based artist’s first exhibition in the UK. The exhibition of the artist’s recent work explores the foundational relationship between modernity and death on conceptual and material levels. The ICA’s main gallery features Dean’s Abattoir, U.S.A.!, a site-specific film installation with immersive 8-channel sound. The animated film traverses the interior of an empty slaughterhouse. (more…)

  • Zhanna Kadyrova: Border Memory
    Feb 17 – May 5, 2024
    Uppsala Art Museum
    Uppsala, Sweden

    Ukrainian artist Zhanna Kadyrova lets urban materials such as asphalt, concrete and tiles bear witness to history’s many layers of rearrangements, visions and shattered dreams. The artist works in a post-minimalist tradition, and the spatial installations refer both to utopian movements and to how abstraction in art is linked to the modern project. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, Kadyrova’s art has focused entirely on psychological and sociological aspects of the war. (more…)

  • Mary Ellen Mark: Encounters
    Publication
    Steidl / C/O Berlin
    International

    The images of American photographer Mary Ellen Mark are icons of documentary and humanistic photography. Focusing her camera on the socially disadvantaged and those on the fringes of society, she told the stories of her protagonists without prejudice. In the context of the emerging women’s movement in the USA during the 1960s and 70s, and as a freelance photographer at a time when print media was suffering its first major crisis, Mark fought her way to the forefront of female voices in photojournalism. (more…)