Arts Desk

Reviewed: “P(art)ners: Gifts from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

P(art)ners: Gifts from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection” includes 30 photographs and sculptures by women, focusing largely on the female body. But this is no survey show – the works on view represent a precise era in contemporary art. A sizable majority were made about a decade ago, by American and European artists who are now in their early forties, including Daniela Rossell, Nicoletta Munroe, Justine Kurland, Malerie Marder, Luisa Lambri, and Annika Von Hausswolff. This means the exhibit offers a surplus of glossy-surfaced, boldly hued, large-scale images of subjects who are posed, usually ironically, amid lavish interiors. Only a few of the photographs break the mold enough to stand out – Margi Geerlinks’ image of an upside-down model with ridiculously large lips; Hellen Van Meene’s stylistically lower-key series of adolescent girls wearing (intentionally) ill-fitting clothes; Catherine Yass’ eerie, almost phosphorescent photographs or public urinals; and Ann Lislegaard’s portrait of the subtle interactions between a pair of bare-chested women. Still, the sculptures seem more conceptually weighty than the photographs – Elizabeth Turk’s pendulous pink-marble forms hung from the wall; Tanja Rector’s self-scrubbing hands made of soap; Marzia Migliora’s white gloves that conceal an interior of thorns; and most visually striking, E. V. Day’s assemblage (pictured) that uses resin, monofilament and bits of hardware to turn a handful of spandex thongs into an unexpectedly explosive force of nature.

Through March 6, 2011, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue, N.W. (202) 783-5000. Monday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sunday: noon5:00 p.m.

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