Views and Vignettes: The Work of Miriam Laufer

August 12 - October 16, 2016

Curated by:
Johanna Drucker
Opening Reception:
Friday, August 12, 8pm

About the Exhibition

Miriam Laufer (1918-1980) was a celebrated Provincetown artist with a unique sensibility that combined the iconographic legacy of her European upbringing with a pop art and proto-feminist configuration. Her paintings and drawings are strikingly fresh and bold, and also reflect a poignant nostalgia, often interacting with ideas of loss and memory.

Having worked as a calligrapher, illustrator, and graphic designer, she began teaching painting and drawing at New York University in the early 1960s, and later returned to school in her 50s and received her BA, magna cum laude, from Brooklyn College.

In Provincetown, where she spent summers, she and her husband Sigmund Laufer were part of a dynamic and interesting group of Jewish American artists, many of whom were immigrants from Europe, who took up residence in town. Their friends and collaborators included Victor Liption and Helen Duberstein, Resia and Ilya Schor, Chaim and Renee Gross, Arthur Cohen and Elizabeth Rogers. They exhibited in shows at the Art Association, Bellardo Gallery, Paul Kessler Gallery, and others.

A full-color 56 page catalog is available at the Museum Store with essays by Johanna Drucker, Maika Pollack, Susan Bee, Abigail Laufer, and Robert D. Speiser.

About the artist

Miriam Laufer grew up in Berlin, German. She emigrated to Palestine as Hitler came to power in Germany. She met Sigmund Laufer while studying art at the Bezalel Art School. In 1941, she graduated and they married. Six years later, they emigrated to America and settled in NYC, where they continued to pursue their art. They had two daughters, artist Susan Bee and Abigail Laufer.

She had several solo show of her paintings, prints, and drawings; most were at the Phoenix Gallery in New York. Her first solo show there was in 1962 on Tenth Street. She exhibited with them over a period of twenty years, and was also included in many group shows starting in 1951. Her early paintings were in the abstract expressionist vein. Her work ranges from colorful lyric abstractions to powerful figurative paintings, including nude self-portraits, and paintings on windshields. Her last paintings were geometric abstractions.

She also exhibited in Provincetown, where she and her husband, artist Sigmund Laufer, spent summer vacations. In the late 1960s, she became involved with the women’s movement. She died in 1980. A retrospective of her work was held at the Phoenix Gallery in NYC in 1981. At that time, a catalogue of her work was published. Another exhibit was held in 2006 at A.I.R. Gallery in NYC. A cataloge was published for that show with an essay by Johanna Drucker. Her artwork has received critical recognition in The New York Times, Art News, Art in America, The Forward, The Brooklyn Rail, and other publications.

About the curator

Johanna Drucker is a book artist and writer who began printing books in the early 1970s. She has worked in many media to produce unique and editioned books that are represented in collections in museum and university libraries worldwide. She is widely known for her scholarly and critical work in the history of the book, visual poetry, contemporary art and aesthetics, digital humanities, and graphical forms of knowledge production. Her recent titles include Graphesis (Harvard University Press, 2014) and Diagrammatic Writing (Onomatopée, 2014). She has also collaborated with Susan Bee (Miriam Laufer’s daughter) on several projects, including the recent Fabulas Feminae (Litmus Press, 2015).

Ancillary Events

Fredi Schiff Levin Lecture Series

Tuesday, August 23, 7pm

Join Susan Bee, artist and daughter of Miriam Laufer, for a gallery talk.

General admission $10/free for PAAM members