Susanne Kühn

Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (MCA DENVER)

The women in Susanne Kühn’s large-scale paintings are alone and isolated despite the crowdedness of their settings, which are frequently borrowed from the history of art. In Melanie–Melancholy, 2007, for example, a twenty-first-century woman sits in a courtyard on loan from Fra Filippo Lippi’s fifteenth-century Madonna and Child with Stories of the Life of St. Anne; but whereas Lippi’s Madonna occupies center stage and looks demurely at the viewer, Kühn’s subject turns to her right and gazes off into the distance. She is partly obscured by spindly, broken tree limbs and schematic tufts of overgrown grass. While Lippi’s painting is a narrative space—figures enact scenes from the life of Mary’s mother in the open rooms and alcoves behind her—Melanie–Melancholy is full of stuff, rather than people, including furniture, a toy figurine, toy castles, and a garment draped over the table behind

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