Rose English, Study for a Divertissement: Jo and Porcelain Cache-Sexe, 1973, C-print, 10 1⁄4 × 7 7⁄8".

Rose English

Richard Saltoun Gallery

A few years ago, I saw images of Rose English’s Quadrille, 1975, and became obsessed with her women wearing horsehair tails and footwear made with real horse hooves and doing dressage in the British countryside. The performance was outside my understanding of that era’s feminist sensibility. It wasn’t violent, durational, or angry but looked like some kind of fairy tale, something out of Angela Carter.

“Rose English: Form, Feminisms, Femininities” laid out the artist’s early interest in sexuality and ballet and her later turn to language, theatricality, and existential humor. Untitled Miss O’Murphy, 1969, made when English was only nineteen, hung by the gallery’s entrance. She had cut out the nude figure from a reproduction of François Boucher’s near—pornographic painting of four-teen—year-old Marie-Louise O’Murphy, Jeune Fille allongée (Reclining Girl; also known as The Blonde Odalisque)

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