Dangerous Women: Electrifying New Exhibition Premieres At The Patricia And Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU

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Courageous heroines and deceptive femmes fatales abound in the Old and New Testaments. From Judith to Esther, Salome to Mary Magdalene, Delilah to Lot's Daughters and Potiphar's wife, these women — perceived as dangerous to society — shaped biblical history. 

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU presents the world premiere of Dangerous Women, the timely new exhibition that explores shifting perceptions of these historic characters, whose power to topple the strongest of male rulers made them "dangerous" but whose strength serves as an historical foundation for thinking about contemporary causes (including the "Me Too" movement).

While some were portrayed as paragons of family goodness who saved their people, others were shown as harlots and hussies, purveyors of sin, deadly temptresses and seductresses.


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Featuring spectacular and thought-provoking Old Master paintings from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Dangerous Women showcases more than twenty paintings and etchings of women found in the Bible by 16th and 17th century artists, including: Pietro da Cortona, Fede Galizia, Pordenone, Giovanni Andrea Sirani and Francesco del Cairo.

Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Francesco Cairo (ca. 1633–37), oil on canvas; Susannah and the Elders by Sisto Badalocchio (ca. 1602-10), oil on canvas    

Many of these works are accompanied by Old Master prints and drawings, including Jan Saenredam's series Famous Women of the New Testament. The exhibition concludes with modern and contemporary works, including the sensuous Salome (1901) by Robert Henri, and Portrait of Mamma Bush(2010) by Mickalene Thomas.  

"Dangerous Women demonstrates how throughout history men have feared women who wield power through their intellect and sexuality," said Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, the Director of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU. "This timely new exhibition of old-master paintings demonstrates how powerful women were feared, even when their acts were heroic. As the museum in Miami that distinguishes itself by presenting works that span all historical periods, we want our audiences to appreciate the narrative of women who are either victims of sexual violence or dominate powerful men, which feels utterly relevant to conversations trending right now," adds Pomeroy.

Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Fede Galizia (1596), oil on canvas; Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness by Karel Dujardin (ca. 1662), oil on canvas

The opening reception is free and open to the public on Saturday, February 17, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. The museum presents a panel discussion about feminism in art history and the lives of women in Renaissance society, on the day of the opening from 3:00-4:00 p.m. 

Led by the museum's Director, Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, panelists include: Kimberly Dennis, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Art History and Program in Sexuality, Women's & Gender Studies, Rollins College; Mary D. Garrard, PhD, Professor Emerita of Art History, American University; and Guido Ruggiero, PhD, Professor of history and College of Arts and Sciences Cooper Fellow, University of Miami.


Hagar and the Angel by Pietro da Cartona (ca. 1643), oil on canvas.

"Dangerous Women demonstrates how throughout history men have feared women who wield power through their intellect and sexuality," said Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, the Director of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU. "This timely new exhibition of old-master paintings demonstrates how powerful women were feared, even when their acts were heroic," adds Pomeroy. "As the museum in Miami that distinguishes itself by presenting works that span all historical periods, we want our audiences to appreciate the narrative of women who are either victims of sexual violence or dominate powerful men, which feels utterly relevant to conversations trending right now. As remote as some of these works may initially appear, art history provides a lens with which to see shifting perceptions about women over centuries," said Dr. Jordana Pomeroy.


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Whether these women were deemed as saints or sinners, their stories and passions shaped biblical history and these perceptions of women have been taught, reviewed and re-evaluated for centuries.

While some artists from the Renaissance and Baroque periods often included these characters as an excuse to paint the sensuous female nude form, other artists from these and other periods focused on the drama and morals contained in these women's stories.  

Dangerous Women is a partnership between the Ringling Museum of Art (Florida State University), the Frost Art Museum (Florida International University) and the Cornell Museum (Rollins College). The exhibition is organized by the Ringling and will only appear at the Frost Art Museum FIU and the Cornell Museum. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Scala Arts Publishers. The exhibition will be closed for a ticketed concert performance by the choral group Seraphic Fire on Saturday, March 10, 2018.

About the Museum

One of the largest free-standing art museums in Florida, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University was founded in 1977 and is the Smithsonian Affiliate in Miami. The museum's new lakeside building debuted in 2008, designed by Yann Weymouth (the chief of design on the I.M. Pei Grand Louvre Project), and this year celebrates its 10th anniversary. With 46,000 square feet of energy efficient exhibition, storage, and programming space, the museum was honored with LEED silver certification. 

The museum's mission is three-fold: to be a campus resource for the entire FIU community; to offer interdisciplinary training in the arts for the next generation of artists and art historians; and to serve as a premier cultural destination for the residents of Miami, and the 15 million visitors to one of the world's most vibrant cultural destinations - home to global cultural events including Art Basel.

The Frost offers programming that complements its exhibitions with a wide range of educational initiatives. Admission to the museum is always free. The Frost is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is located at 10975 SW 17 Street. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m., and Sunday noon-5:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays and most legal holidays. The Sculpture Park is open every day. More information at frost.fiu.edu 

 

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