Urgent Museum Notice

Polly Apfelbaum

A light-skinned adult woman wearing a black zippered jacket, her pink lips parted in a smile. A royal blue, close-fitting hat covers her ears. Her right arm rests on a marble ledge. Behind her the rooftops of city buildings are visible.

Photo courtesy of the artist and Clifton Benevento

Born in 1955

She combines concepts from Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Pop art to create distinctive prints, ceramics, and hand-dyed fabric floor pieces she refers to as “fallen paintings.”

Apfelbaum’s kaleidoscopic works feature lively color, geometric forms, and non-representational subjects, yet she rejected the aggressive masculinity of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Her work incorporates textiles, clay, found objects, and other tactile elements traditionally associated with craft and domesticity.

Apfelbaum studied painting and printmaking at the Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania, receiving a B.F.A. in 1978. She moved to New York City, where she was inspired by installation art and worked to find a middle ground between sculpture and her two-dimensional training. She was influenced by artists including Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Jackson Pollock, but Apfelbaum’s style incorporates energy, playfulness, and wit, as well as her love of popular culture and affirmative view of femininity.

The prolific artist has mounted nearly 60 solo exhibitions worldwide and has participated in hundreds of group exhibitions. She has received awards and grants from organizations including Anonymous Was a Woman, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Polly Apfelbaum
  • Birth

    Abington, Pennsylvania, 1955

Works by Polly Apfelbaum

Rainbow Love Mountain Ranch, New Mexico

In Rainbow Love Mountain Ranch, Polly Apfelbaum combines motifs of Minimalism and Pop art with her characteristic use of vivid color. Flower and starburst shapes in 12 vertical columns—each a different color—seem to vibrate and spin before viewers’ eyes. The print evokes floor installations by Apfelbaum comprising hundreds of fabric flowers.

An enthusiastic fan of popular culture, Apfelbaum has said she...

Twelve vertical columns—each a different color— of repeating flower, pinwheel, and starburst shapes on a white background.