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April 07, 2023

Acquisition: Marjorie Strider

Marjorie Strider, "Girl with Rose"

Marjorie Strider
Girl with Rose, 1963
acrylic on plywood
overall: 114.3 x 50.8 x 5.08 cm (45 x 20 x 2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Gift of John Wilmerding

Marjorie Strider (1931–2014) was among a handful of women pop artists working in the 1960s. The National Gallery of Art has acquired Girl with Rose (1963), a work from the most important moment of Strider’s career. A gift from John Wilmerding, the Sarofim Professor of American art, emeritus, at Princeton University, and the former curator, deputy director, trustee, and Board chairman of the National Gallery, it is one of only a dozen of her “build-out” paintings depicting the female form.

Pushing the boundaries of painting, Strider’s images literally popped off her canvases because she stuck objects to the faces and bodies of many of her two-dimensional subjects. The figure in Girl with Rose has a nose made from a doorstop painted to match her skin tone. Her lips are built up with plastic and protrude from the image. Known for appropriating sexualized images of women from US popular culture, Strider challenged the straight male gaze by delivering what it desired too literally. The figure in Girl with Rose—who wears red lipstick, mascara, and has plucked eyebrows and windblown black hair, and may be topless—evokes both pinup girls and models, blurring the distinction between pornography and fashion.

Born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, Strider studied at the Kansas City Art Institute before moving to New York in 1957. She taught at the School of Visual Arts from 1968 to 2004. Her breakthrough came in the 1964 First International Girlie Exhibition at the Pace Gallery, which also included such artists as Andy Warhol, Rosalyn Drexler, and Roy Lichtenstein. Strider’s Green Triptych (1963) received great attention for its physically protruding elements (the figure’s breasts), which Strider dubbed “build-outs.” Brimming with elegance, threat, and sardonic wit, Strider’s particular brand of feminism was unique within the field of 1960s pop.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, Strider’s work moved increasingly into real space. She became close to both Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow and participated in numerous happenings. Strider was also a co-organizer of Street Works with Scott Burton and John Perreault, which brought performance into the urban environment. She created sculpture using urethane foam as an organic, fluid material that she would pour down stairs, out windows, or force through venetian blinds. In the 2000s Strider began to make paintings devoid of relief, bringing a new abstract dynamism to her interpretation of the female form. The geometric elements and apertures of these works suggest an erotic gaze that has transcended gender binaries.

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