Chicago

Gertrude Abercrombie

Hyde Park Art Center

All the work in Gertrude Abercrombie’s retrospective—96 paintings done from 1932 to 1971—is intended to be autobiographical. The consistent use of similar symbols centering on a woman figure who appears in almost every painting successfully demonstrates a course of life.

Early self-portrait heads (1932–35) are in sunny, translucent, pastel colors. In White House (1935) the woman extends her arms from an open window toward the lawn where a white horse grazes, symbol of a good enchantment. In The Hill, 1938, the woman approaches the house but its doors and windows are shut; she wears a hat, symbol of containment, and two white horses graze out of her view. By 1939, Interior shows a brick structure behind a cracking, gray-walled facade, while a 1940 portrait head shows the woman in opaque purples, stiffly removing grapes from a bowl, symbol of life and sensuality. The portrait face has whitened

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