Bastienne Schmidt: Typology of Women
Ricco/Maresca Gallery is pleased to present “Typology of Women,” an exhibition and book launch on the occasion of award-winning mixed media artist and photographer Bastienne Schmidt’s latest publication. “Typology of Women” comprises a series of hand-painted silhouette cutouts depicting female imagery across cultures and throughout history. Schmidt deliberately uses the term and concept of “typology”—the systematic classification of things according to shared characteristics—as a formal means to explore the symbolic and sociological dimensions of the “type,” thereby offering sharp insights into the complex processes by which female identity is constructed. Schmidt’s silhouettes (rendered in luminous orange as an ironic parallel to a reading of Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” and Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”) portray nuances while unfixing received ideas. Arts writer Mimi Thompson writes in “The Subversive Silhouette”—the introductory critical essay to Schmidt’s book:
“The silhouettes of female forms in her Typology of Women series recall familiar styles, occupations and cultural identities in anthropological outline; for instance one figure resembles a cancan dancer holding up her skirt and another calls to mind a fashion model from the 1950s. But small additional details within the painterly orange and yellow silhouettes, such as other figures and marks, complicate the identity suggested by each shape’s perimeter; Schmidt calls these additional figures and forms ‘the running patterns of women’s lives’. Inspired by her archeologist father, who lay shards of ancient ceramics in long lines upon tables to view them and sometimes reconstruct them, Schmidt divides her subject into types and shapes that create a non-specific history … [She] uses both cultural and collective memory to investigate the history of women’s roles. By presenting varied outlines of female shapes that recall Cycladic sculpture, Matisse cut-outs and paper dolls, she creates a collection of uncertain identities that span centuries from ancient goddesses to contemporary athletes … The use of silhouette also emerges from Schmidt’s interest in the repeated motifs of fairy-tales such as Hans Hoffman’s Struwwelpeter and the drawings of Wilhelm Busch. Connecting forms is a way to shape content, but the timeline of these figures suggests different cultures and moments in history in a non-linear manner. Schmidt’s investigation could be in the shape of a globe, with silhouettes of women stretched along the longitudes and latitudes; although these figures reflect different time periods and places, they also seem to exist at the same moment, and in the same world.”
Schmidt was born in Germany and has lived in New York for the past 20 years. She grew up in Greece and Italy as the daughter of an archaeologist, which influenced her creative process in diverse ways. Inspired by Greek ancient ceramics and their thin lined figure drawings, as well as Japanese woodcuts, fairytales, and American pop culture, her work often incorporates and transforms archetypal shapes. Schmidt’s diverse oeuvre (comprising multimedia works, photography, painting, and large-scale drawings) is included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the International Center of Photography, the Brooklyn Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris, among others. She has been shown nationally and internationally in over 100 exhibitions, among them: the International Center of Photography in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, the New Museum, Museum fuer Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg and the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has published six monographs, including “Vivir la Muerte,” (1996) “American Dreams,” (1997) “Shadowhome,” (2004) “Home Stills,” (2010) “Topography of Quiet,” (2014) and “Typology of Women,” (2016).