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Miriam Schapiro
Honor Fraser, Culver City, California
Recommendation by David S. Rubin

Miriam Shapiro, Byzantium, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 108 x 72"

Continuing through February 17, 2018

Before she became known for her feminist patterned collage work, Miriam Schapiro (1923-2015) also broke new ground — very early on, in fact — in the development of digital art. While working in California from 1967-75, Schapiro collaborated with physicist David Nabilof in using a computer-plotting program to make preliminary sketches for her large scale abstract paintings. In using the computer to refine her compositions before painting them, Schapiro discovered a new mechanism for exploring geometry, flatness and illusionism, issues that were also being investigated at the same time in paintings by many of her male peers, such as Al Held, Ellsworth Kelly and Jules Olitski.

In Schapiro's hands, the potential of geometric abstraction is every bit as inventive and forceful as in the works of these contemporaries, who were of course receiving more attention than women artists. In “Byzantium” (1967), Schapiro arrived at a wonderful tension between flat and illusory elements, while adding the humorous suggestion that the scenes resemble sections of toppling buildings. In “Canyon” (1967), the spatial ambiguity of crisscrossing pillars superimposed over flat geometric patterning is visually enigmatic. Throughout the exhibition Schapiro's color choices are consistently unconventional and downright joyful.

Honor Fraser

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