Polly Apfelbaum

Born 1955

Vibrant, eye-popping color unifies Polly Apfelbaum’s wide-ranging work.

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.

National Museum of Women in the Arts