Miriam Schapiro

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Miriam Shapira-Luria, a Talmud scholar in the Late Middle Ages
Miriam Schapiro
Born November 15, 1923
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died June 20, 2015(2015-06-20) (aged 91)
Hampton Bays, New York, United States
Education BA, University of Iowa (1945), MA, University of Iowa (1946), MFA, University of Iowa (1949)
Known for Painting, Printmaking, Collage
Movement Abstract Expressionism, Feminist art, Pattern and Decoration
Awards College Art Association Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement (2002)

Miriam Schapiro (or Shapiro) (November 15, 1923 – June 20, 2015) was a Canadian-born artist based in America. She was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, and a pioneer of feminist art. She was also considered a leader of the Pattern and Decoration art movement.[1] Schapiro's artwork blurs the line between fine art and craft. She incorporated craft elements into her paintings due to their association with women and femininity. She often used icons that are associated with women, such as hearts, floral decorations, geometric patterns, and the color pink. In the 1970s she made the hand fan, a typically small woman's object, heroic by painting it six feet by twelve feet.[2]

Personal life and education[edit]

Schapiro was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[3] Her father was an industrial design artist who fostered her desire to be an artist and served as her role model and mentor. Her mother was a stay at home mother who worked part-time during the depression.[4]

Schapiro studied at the State University of Iowa, where she met the artist Paul Brach, whom she married in 1946.[3] By 1951 they moved to New York City and befriended many of the Abstract expressionist artists of the New York School, including Joan Mitchell, Larry Rivers, Knox Martin and Michael Goldberg. Shapiro and Brach lived in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s. During this period Shapiro had a successful career as an abstract expressionist painter in the hard-edge style.[5] She died on June 20, 2015 in Hampton Bays, New York, aged 91.[6][7]


Schapiro not only honored the craft tradition in women's art, but also paid homage to women artists of the past. In the early 1970s she made paintings and collages which included photo reproductions of Mary Cassatt's and Georgia O'keefe's paintings. In the mid 1980s she painted portraits of Frida Kahlo on top of her old self-portrait paintings. In the 1990s Schapiro began to include women of the Russian Avant Garde in her work. The Russian Avant Garde was an important moment in Modern Art history for Schapiro to reflect on because women were seen as equals.[8] Early in her career, Schapiro started looking for maternal symbols to unify her own roles as a woman. Her series, Shrines was created in 1961-63 with this in mind. It is one of her earliest group of work that was also an autobiography. Each section of the work show an aspect of being a woman artist. They are also symbolic of her body and soul. Her painting, Big Ox No. 1, from 1968, references Shrines, however no longer compartmentalized. The center O takes on the symbol of the egg which exists as the window into the maternal structure with outstretched limbs.[4]

In the 1970s, Schapiro and Brach moved to California so that both could teach in the art department at the University of California. Subsequently, she was able to establish the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia with Judy Chicago. The program set out to address the problems in the arts from an institutional position. They wanted the creation of art to be less of a private, introspective adventure and more of a public process through consciousness raising sessions, personal confessions and technical training.[9] She participated in the Womanhouse exhibition in 1972. Schapiro's smaller piece within Womanhouse, called "Dollhouse", was constructed using various scrap pieces to create all the furniture and accessories in the house. Each room signified a particular role a woman plays in society and depicted the conflicts between them.[10]

Schapiro's work from the 1970s onwards consists primarily of collages assembled from fabrics, which she called "femmages". As Schapiro traveled the United States giving lectures, she would ask the women she met for a souvenir. These souvenirs would be used in her collage like paintings. Her 1977-1978 essay Waste Not Want Not: An Inquiry into What Women Saved and Assembled - FEMMAGE (written with Melissa Meyer) describes femmage as the activities of collage, assemblage, découpage and photomontage practised by women using "traditional women's techniques - sewing, piercing, hooking, cutting, appliquéing, cooking and the like..."[11]

Schapiro's works are held in numerous museum collections[12][better source needed] including the Jewish Museum (New York), the National Gallery of Art,[13][better source needed] and the Flomenhaft Gallery.[14] Her awards include the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement from the College Art Association[15] and a 1987 Guggenheim Fellowship.[16] Miriam Schapiro's estate is represented exclusively by Eric Firestone Gallery.[17]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1982: Skowhegan Medal for Collage[18]
  • 1983: Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, College of Wooster, Wooster, OH
  • 1988: Honors Award, The Women's Caucus for Art
  • 1989: Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA
  • 1992: Honors Award, National Association of Schools of Art and Design
  • 1994: Honors Award, New York State NARAL
  • 1994: Honorary Doctorate Degree, Minneapolis and Design, Minneapolis, MN
  • 1994: Honorary Doctorate Degree, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI
  • 2002: Lifetime Achievement Award

List of major works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cotter, Holland (2008-01-15), "Scaling a Minimalist Wall With Bright, Shiny Colors", New York Times, retrieved 2009-09-12 
  2. ^ Stein, Linda (1998). "Miriam Schapiro: Woman-Warrior with Lace". Fiberarts (24): 35–40. 
  3. ^ a b Avital H. Bloch, Lauri Umansky, Impossible to Hold: Women and Culture in the 1960s, NYU Press, 2005, p319. ISBN 0-8147-9910-8
  4. ^ a b Gouma-Peterson, Thalia. Miriam Schapiro: An Art of Becoming. American Art 11.1 (1997) : 10-45.
  5. ^ Fred S. Kleiner, Christin J. Mamiya, Helen Gardner, Gardner's Art Through the Ages, Thomson Wadsworth, 2005, p1073. ISBN 0-15-505090-7
  6. ^ http://hyperallergic.com/216461/remembering-miriam-schapiro-1923-2015/
  7. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/25/arts/design/miriam-schapiro-91-a-feminist-artist-who-harnessed-craft-and-pattern-dies.html?_r=0
  8. ^ Richmond, Susan (2004). "Gainesville, Georgia". Art Papers. 28.4: 42–43. 
  9. ^ Arnason, H.H.; Mansfield, E.C. History of Modern Art. Prentice Hall. 2010. pp604. ISBN 0-205-67367-8
  10. ^ 3. Schapiro, Miriam. The Education of Women as Artists: Project Womanhouse. Art Journal 31.3 (1972) : 268-270.
  11. ^ Kristine Stiles, Peter Selz, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings, University of California Press, 1996, pp151-4. ISBN 0-520-20253-8
  12. ^ artfacts.net. artfacts.net (2013-11-12). Retrieved on 2014-01-24.
  13. ^ nga.gov[dead link]
  14. ^ Miriam Schapiro. "Flomenhaft Gallery. Retrieved on 2014-01-24.
  15. ^ Miriam Schapiro, feminist artist and Pattern & Decoration painter, received the distinguished artist award for lifetime achievement - People - Brief Article, Art in America, August 2002.
  16. ^ "Miriam Schapiro". Fellows. John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  17. ^ http://www.ericfirestonegallery.com/
  18. ^ "Mairiam Schapiro Awards Page" (PDF). Mariam Schapiro. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  19. ^ http://www.nyu.edu/greyart/exhibits/nycool/27shapiro.html
  20. ^ Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party. Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved on 2014-01-24.


External links[edit]