Urgent Museum Notice

Fabulous! Portraits by Michele Mattei on view October 12, 2012–January 13, 2013

An older woman dances in a flowing red dress, appearing as if she's floating through space. Her face is turned to the right and she wears an expression of calm and fulfillment.

WASHINGTON—The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) presents Fabulous! Portraits by Michele Mattei, a selection of photographs from her portrait project featuring women artists and philanthropists who have shaped contemporary culture. Among those photographed are Louise Bourgeois, Faith Ringgold, Sonia Rykiel, Betye Saar and June Wayne. The exhibition is on view October 12, 2012, through January 13, 2013.

Born in France in 1952, Michele Mattei’s career began in journalism then evolved into photojournalism and later into fine arts photography. Since the beginning she has explored different ways of telling people’s stories. While chronicling individuals who faced a range of civil and social hardships in South America in the 1970s, she became fascinated by the story of the individual and was drawn to the narrative power of images. Inspired by the photojournalists she worked with, Mattei took up the camera herself and has worked as a photographer since the late 1980s.

Mattei’s inspiration for Fabulous! originated from a conversation she overheard between two older women. Intrigued she wondered, “Who will I be at eighty? How can the spirit stay youthful? Who do I want to emulate?” With her idols in mind, she developed a list of women artists, focusing on the work they were producing in their later years. Through photographing and interviewing each of the women, she was able to fuse fine art and journalism.

Mattei’s process is specific to the individual subject. She immerses herself into their lives asking questions about their career and accomplishments. The result is an intimate portrait informed by the dialogue between the subject and photographer.

Portraits of Lillian Bassman, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, Carmen de Lavallade, Bette Bao Lord,  Agnes Martin, Isabelle Stevenson, Sonia Rykiel, Beatrice Wood, and Eva Zeisel round out the exhibition.

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National Museum of Women in the Arts

Founded in 1981 and opened in 1987, NMWA is the only museum solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts. The museum’s collection features 4,000 works from the 16th century to the present created by more than 1,000 artists; including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, Chakaia Booker, and Nan Goldin along with special collections of 18th-century silver tableware and botanical prints. NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. It is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit nmwa.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and free for NMWA Members and youth 18 and under.