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Sex Work

Mary Beth Edelson

David Lewis, S2

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Mary Beth Edelson, Double Shells ('Woman Rising' series), 1973, Oil and ink on silver gelatin print, Paper Dimensions: 10 x 8 inches 25.4 x 20.3 cm; Framed Dimensions: 17 x 15 x 1 3/4 inches 43.2 x 38.1 x 4.4 cm

Mary Beth Edelson, Double Shells ('Woman Rising' series), 1973, Oil and ink on silver gelatin print, Paper Dimensions: 10 x 8 inches 25.4 x 20.3 cm; Framed Dimensions: 17 x 15 x 1 3/4 inches 43.2 x 38.1 x 4.4 cm

Mary Beth Edelson is a celebrated American artist, activist, and pioneer of the first-generation Feminist art movement. For the past 50 years she has created iconic artworks – ranging from photography, painting, sculpture and drawing to performance, book/print making, collages and murals – often using her own body as canvas and subject matter. 

David Lewis presents a selection of Edelson’s performative photographic works from the 1970s including the seminal ‘Woman Rising’ series (1973-4), in which the artist uses her own body as a visual trope for exploring self-constructed identities. Edelson’s silver gelatin prints are then hand-painted to transform the artist into defiant mythical archetypes. A grouping of wall collages likewise features a wide range of images: from nature (serpents, birds), popular culture (Grace Jones, Gena Rowlands) and art history (Louise Bourgeois, Botticelli’s Venus).  A staple of Edelson’s institutional shows, these collages ‘stage’ the Frieze presentation; in a theatrical sense, but also as an immersive cinematic ‘storyboard’, presenting icons and themes from Edelson’s whole body of work.

Mary Beth Edelson (Born 1933, Chicago; lives and works in New York) Mary Beth Edelson has been the subject of retrospectives including at Malmö Kunstmuseum, Sweden and Migros Museum, Zürich, and international survey exhibitions, including ‘Painting 2.0’, Museum Brandhorst, Munich; ‘WACK! Art of the Feminist Revolution’, MOCA, Los Angeles; ‘Greater New York’, MoMA PS1; ‘NYC 1993’, New Museum; and ‘Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography’, MoMA, (all New York). Edelson’s work is in the public collections of institutions including Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, (all New York); Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, among others.