October 25, 2018 to March 10, 2019
Guest curated by Alexis Boylan, Associate Director, Humanities Institute and Associate Professor of Art History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Program.
Ellen Emmet Rand was one of the most important and prolific portrait painters in the United States in the first decades of the twentieth century. If you were in government, business, the arts, a society woman, or even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt—and you could afford her fee—a Rand portrait was a signal of power and style. She re-envisioned the look of wealth, class, and business in her paintings. Yet, despite completing over 700 portraits and being one of the highest-paid female artists of her time, her reputation and acclaim all but disappeared after her death. This exhibition looks to assert Rand’s crucial place in the history of American art and critically consider the ways this artist negotiated her own career, family, and finances in modern, commercially-savvy ways.
The Business of Bodies will constitute the most significant assessment of Rand and her portraiture to date. Featuring the collection of Rand oil paintings, drawings, and photographs from the William Benton Museum of Art’s permanent collection, and works borrowed from museums and private collections, this exhibition looks to explore Rand’s work, and the business of painting portraits.