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“The Slap,” 2012 @susan_bee_1
Susan Bee

Susan Bee is an artist living in Brooklyn. She has had eight solo shows at A.I.R. Gallery, NY, and solo shows at Southfirst Gallery and Accola Griefen Gallery in NY. She has a BA from Barnard College and a MA in Art from Hunter College. Her work has been featured in numerous group shows. Bee has published sixteen artist’s books. She has collaborated with poets including: Johanna Drucker, Susan Howe, Charles Bernstein, Rachel Levitsky, and Jerome Rothenberg. Bee is the coeditor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artist’s Writings, Theory, and Criticism, Duke University Press, 2000, and the coeditor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online. Her artist’s book archive and the M/E/A/N/I/N/G Archive are at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Bee’s artwork is in many public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Getty Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Bee’s work has been reviewed in: Art in America, The New York Times, The New Yorker, ArtNews, The Brooklyn Rail, Artcritical, ArtSlant, The Forward, Huffington Post, Art Papers, and Hyperallergic. She won a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts in 2014 and has had fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo.

The Slap (2012), Gun Crazy (2011), and Cover Up (2010) are from a series of paintings that are based on stills from films, mostly noirs. This series of small oil paintings dramatize the power relationships between the white male and female characters through the lens of those dark, violent films of the 1940s and 1950s. Black and white film stills are the pictorial basis of these oil paintings. The keyed-up colors, energetic patterns and painterly abstractions that also populate these pieces, make them psychologically complex. These works are filled with tension as well as tenderness. I remain intrigued by the dangerous women and the desolate men in the post World War II film noirs. These works bring into focus the power of the individual faces and bodies and their relationship to the painted ground and also their relation to each other. I emphasize the dynamic between the figures. The focus of the paintings is on these relationships as well as the psychological space and violent emotions that are carved out among the people that I’m portraying. The paintings confront, without resolving or sublimating, gender roles and power relationships.


All images © Susan Bee (2012, 2011, 2010).

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“The Slap,” 2012 @susan_bee_1