Miriam Schapiro

Miriam Schapiro

1923–2015

Artist Details

Birth Place
Toronto
Death Place
Hampton Bays, New York
Phonetic Spelling
MIH-ree-ahm shah-PIH-roh
Medium
Drawings and prints; Painting; Sculpture; Textiles and clothing; Installation Art
Style
Feminist Art
Places of Residence
New York; La Jolla, California
Training
University of Iowa, Iowa City, 1943–49; Hunter College, New York, 1943; Federal Art Program, New York, 1937–41; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1937–47
Retrospective Exhibitions

The California Years 1967–1975, Eric Firestone Gallery, New York City, 2016; Miriam Schapiro, A Visionary, National Academy Museum, New York City, 2016; Miriam Schapiro, A Retrospective, Kristen Fredrickson Gallery, New York, 2004; Miriam Schapiro’s Art: A Journey, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, Iowa, 2002; Miriam Schapiro, A Retrospective of Paintings 1954-1997, Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, Florida, 2000; Miriam Schapiro-Works on Paper: A Thirty-Year Retrospective, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona, 1999; Miriam Schapiro: A Woman’s Way, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 1997; Miriam Schapiro: A Retrospective 1953-1980, College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio, 1980; Miriam Schapiro: New York, Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1958

NMWA Exhibitions

Women House, 2018
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution
, 2007
The Washington Print Club 30th Anniversary Exhibition: Graphic Legacy, 1994–95
Presswork: The Art of Women Printmakers, 1991
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1990–91
Book as Art II, 1989

About the Artist

As a pioneer of the 1970s feminist art movement, Miriam Schapiro challenged the dichotomy of “high” art, denoting the works of known, predominantly male artists, and “decorative” art, a term then used to relegate women and folk artists to anonymity.

Her defining breakthrough came in 1972 when she, Judy Chicago, and 21 of their students from the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts created the installation Womanhouse.

Contained in an abandoned mansion, Womanhouse used icons of domestic work to explore the processes and history of gender construction, linking women’s cultural heritage with progressive feminist expression.

In subsequent years, Schapiro developed this link into a visual language that sought to recover and elevate the work of women artisans of the past, employing decorative conventions found in quilting, embroidery, and appliqué. To describe her artworks, as well as the activities they reference, she used the term “femmage,” a word she invented to suggest a continuity between high art collage and works created by anonymous women.

Since the 1990s, Schapiro’s works incorporated figurative elements; the femininity alluded to in her abstract works became personified and emerged from within “femmaged” patterns as exuberant, dancing women.

National Museum of Women in the Arts