Rainbow Love Mountain Ranch, New Mexico 2007

Flower and starburst shapes in 12 vertical columns—each a different color—seem to vibrate and spin before viewers’ eyes.
Polly Apfelbaum, Rainbow Love Mountain Ranch, 2007; Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of the artist

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 draws inspiration from The Powerpuff Girls, the cartoon series about crime-fighting kindergartners. She sees the bold colors of the show and the distinct personalities of the characters as embodiments of a positive representation of femininity. This buoyant aesthetic infuses much of Apfelbaum’s work, alongside her rigorous focus on the formal qualities of color, light, and space.

Apfelbaum created this work during a residency at the Tamarind Institute, a lithography workshop established in New Mexico in 1970. Her time there coincided with the New Mexico State Fair. In a twist that suits the whimsical nature of her work, the pink stuffed unicorn she won at the fair still serves as the workshop’s unofficial mascot.

National Museum of Women in the Arts