Hollis Taggart announced that the gallery will begin formally representing Idelle Weber, a major figure in the Pop Art movement, but one whose work deserves greater recognition. The gallery has had a multi-year relationship with Weber, beginning with its 2013 exhibition Idelle Weber: The Pop Years. Organized by the gallery, that 2013 show helped bring Weber back into the forefront of contemporary thinking about mid-century women artists—and led to the acquisition of a major Weber works, including the painting Munchkins I, II, & III (1964) by the Chrysler Museum of Art in 2013, and the Jump Rope (1967–1968) wall sculpture, by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 2016.
In conjunction with this new relationship, Hollis Taggart will present an exhibition of Weber’s work this fall, the gallery’s third show in its new, street-level space on West 26th Street. Opening November 8, 2018, the exhibition will focus on Weber’s work from the 1960s, with a few earlier and later works as well. The exhibition, titled Idelle Weber: Postures and Profiles from the 50s and 60s, will feature more than 30 works, including Lucite cube sculptures, collages, and gouache and tempera on paper works. These works address some of the themes that occupied and inspired Weber throughout her career, including the corporate world, fashion, politics, and women in society.
“Idelle Weber is one of the pioneering artists of the Pop Art movement whose work deserves to be more widely known and better understood, and this show takes strong steps in both directions,” said Hollis Taggart, the gallery’s founder. “In recent years, the understanding of and perspectives on the importance of women within major American art movements has been receiving critical and much-needed re-examination. We are excited to represent Idelle—and to present this exhibition—solidifying our connection with an artist who made important contributions to American art.”
Working primarily in New York in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, Weber produced paintings, collages, and works on laminated plastic forms. With this approach, Weber carved a distinct space for herself within the Pop Art idiom. Her use of hard-edged silhouettes, often painted or drawn over paper cut-outs and positioned atop a variety of colored, patterned, and designed backgrounds, reflect her sharp insight into how the graphic elements of Pop Art could be used to capture and comment on society. The silhouettes depict modern archetypes—businessmen, office workers, couples, brides, families—posed in ways that reflect stereotypical expectations of their day-to-day activities.
However, rather than being a passive bystander as the anonymous silhouettes might suggest, Weber’s work shows her as an active and acute observer: the voyeur in control, who used her position—outside, looking in—to capture, or even caricature, the activities of those around her. For example, her gouache and graphite work on paper titled Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer (1958) and the later silkscreened Lucite cube piece Dewey Ballantine (1968) show black silhouettes of men—former New York Governor Thomas Dewey and his partners—conversing in an office or confidently lighting a cigarette. Similarly, Weber’s AG Bobbie (1964) is clearly evocative of the late Robert Kennedy’s confident poise, style, and haircut. In both cases, the silhouetted forms provide a level of anonymity that is betrayed only by the works’ titles.
This sense of observing and critiquing comes through even in the works depicting more generic figures. From Madison Avenue (1960s), to Three Suits (1962), to Peach Slip (1968), to Babes (1970s), the people in Weber’s silhouettes may remain unknown, but the impact of their presence is clear. Weber surrounds their silhouettes with painted backgrounds—the bikini-bearing women in Babes are shown in the blue of reflected water—or by mounting her work onto a patterned paper, as with Three Suits, creating an additional visual effect. While Weber’s intentions are often ambiguous, they reflect her keen observer’s eye for the conformity of the period, and for the smaller moments in which people challenged that conformity.