Critics’ Picks

Carmen Winant, Pictures of Women Working (detail), 2016, collage, acrylic, bronze leaf, newspaper, glass, dimensions variable.

Los Angeles

Carmen Winant

Skibum MacArthur
1989 Blake Ave
August 13–October 29, 2016

One collage, a sharp horizontal band tightening around all of the rooms of the gallery, encircles us with images of women. For Pictures of Women Working, 2016, some one thousand photographs, affectionately clipped from national newspapers and fashion magazine advertisements or editorials, paper over one another, with a bit of white paint filling in the occasional gap. Lifted from the era of feminism’s second wave, sepia shots lie over newer pages of the New York Times, interspersed with a series of sheets containing black-and-white photos of women repeating aerobic moves while free-floating in electric blush-, cantaloupe-, or celery-colored dimensions. There are good women—breastfeeding in ivory satin robes, vacuuming, filing into work in a neat row of nurses’ caps and white stockings, kneeling in coronation with ladies in waiting. Then there are bad women—caressing each other, smoking (Nina Simone and Gloria Steinem both daring you to comment with their confronting gazes), protesting the Vietnam War and labor inequality. And sphinxlike women—Hillary Clinton, many times, throughout the decades.

Babies in arms, babies everywhere, perhaps in a nod to the artist’s own new motherhood. Cher is here; so are more anonymous figures strutting in eighties shoulder-padded power suits. The photomontage, lovingly amassed and laid out, uses the elementary craft techniques that fashioning a valentine for the object(s) of one’s admiration might involve. But this one is not inscribed to a crush—it’s to big sisters.