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Martha Rosler in conversation with James Meyer

March 21 at 6:30
East Building Auditorium
Martha Rosler, artist, in conversation with James Meyer, curator of art, 1945–1974, National Gallery of Art

Registration is free but required. Seating is available on a first-come, first seated basis. The East Building entrance reopens at 6:00 p.m.

The conversation will be streamed live here.

A book signing follows.

Even with a career spanning five decades, Martha Rosler continues to develop her artistic practice in response to current events. Her works in video, photography, text, installation, and performance reflect the artist’s lifelong engagement with questions of social justice. Addressing themes of gender, class, housing, technologies of travel, war, and American power, Rosler examines the ways that media — ranging from documentary photography to television, print, and on-line media — shape and repress political understanding.

Her renowned series, House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, is a collection of twenty powerful, multilayered collages, otherwise called photomontages, that contrast American middle-class life and aspirations with the devastation of the Vietnam War — the first war to be brought home through television. Rosler’s visual vocabulary repurposes the images she saw in print media such as Life magazine and House Beautiful, as well as on television, antiwar flyers, and posters circulated during the mid-1960s through the 1970s. These photomontages were initially considered ephemera, distributed at antiwar rallies and reproduced in the alternative press. It was not until many years later that Rosler transformed these arresting images into editioned artworks.

In 2015 the National Gallery of Art acquired one of these prints. Cleaning the Drapes presents a fashionably dressed woman vacuuming in her home; pulling back her elegant damask drapes, she reveals a television-like scene of U.S. soldiers hunkered down in Vietnam. The work expresses a core concern of Rosler’s House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home series: the American people’s unprecedented proximity via television to a war that seemed, as Rosler states, “very far away and in a place we couldn’t imagine.” In her conversation with National Gallery curator James Meyer, Rosler will discuss this pioneering work within the arc of her remarkable career.

Rosler earned her BA from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1965 and her MFA from the University of California, San Diego in 1972. She has received several prestigious fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1975, 1976, 1980, 1983, and 1994). Among other international prizes, she has been awarded the Spectrum International Prize in Photography (2005), the Oskar Kokoschka Prize (2006), the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Grant (2007), the United States Artists Nimoy Fellowship (2008), the Guggenheim Museum Lifetime Achievement Award (2010), the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Residency (2011), the Brooklyn Museum's Asher B. Durand Award (2012), the College Art Association Distinguished Feminist Award (2013), the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award (2016), and the Lichtwark Prize (2017), in addition to honorary doctorates from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (2012), the Courtauld Institute, London, (2014), the Rhode Island School of Design (2016), and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University (2016). Solo exhibitions of Rosler’s work have been organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1977), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1987), Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1990), The New Museum in collaboration with the International Center of Photography, New York, (1998 – 2000), Sprengel Museum Hannover (2005), Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (2006), University of Rennes (2006), Portikus in Frankfurt (2008), and the Jewish Museum, New York (2018). Martha Rosler continues to reside and work in Brooklyn, where she was born.

Martha Rosler, Cleaning the Drapes, from the series, House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, 1967–1972, inkjet print, printed 2007, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee and Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund

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