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The Art Story Homepage Artists Miriam Schapiro
Miriam Schapiro Photo

Miriam Schapiro

American Painter, Sculptor, and Printmaker

Movements and Styles: Abstract Expressionism, Feminist Art, Collage

Born: November 15, 1923 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Died: June 20, 2015 - Hampton Bays, New York

Miriam Schapiro Timeline

"I wanted to validate the traditional activities of women, to connect myself with the unknown women artists who made quilts, who had done the invisible 'woman's work' of civilization. I wanted to acknowledge them, to honor them."

Summary

Coming of age during the "macho" styles of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism, Schapiro expanded her materials to include marginalized types of domestic craft and incorporate feminist imagery. In addition to creating a path forward for herself and her colleagues, she worked to resurrect the reputations of women artists who had been forgotten or dismissed by art historians. As an activist for equal recognition and respect for herself and her contemporaries, she collaborated with Judy Chicago on the Feminist Art Project and Womanhouse. Her use of autobiographical details, especially her personal/professional conflicts, influenced feminist artists of the late-20th century to be similarly frank, including Hannah Wilke and Mary Kelly.

Key Ideas

In her "femmage" and assemblages, Schapiro incorporated elements of craft and "low" art, such as sewing, that had been excluded from the realm of "fine art" and merely described as "woman's work." By combining these materials and processes with visual elements taken from canonical art and Old Masters, she sought to elevate these female traditions and place them alongside oil painting and classical drawing as equals.
Schapiro's interest in fabric and sewing, which she often used to create abstract compositions or vibrant colors and hard-edged forms, was influential to the formation of the Pattern and Decoration movement (often called P&D). This style emphasized the visual patterns of marginalized media such as quilting, fabric design, or wallpaper in an attempt to redefine abstraction beyond the Euro-American, male-dominated movements of the 20th century by reasserting traditionally feminine elements of abstract art-making.
Schapiro embraced the decorative as a positive quality, fighting against artistic snobbery that had long dismissed decoration as a trivial sign of inferior art or craft, often with associations of femininity. Incorporating brilliant colors, geometric patterns, and tactile materials into her compositions, she created works that were unapologetically ornate, but also grounded them with allusions to traditional fine art to form hybrids whose artistic pedigree could not be marginalized.
Miriam Schapiro Photo

Canadian-born American artist Miriam (Mimi) Schapiro was an only child born to Jewish parents of Russian descent; Theodore Schapiro, an artist and industrial designer, and Fannie Cohen, a homemaker. Her grandfather, who emigrated from Russia, was responsible for inventing the first movable eye for dolls and made his living making teddy bears.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Miriam Schapiro
Interactive chart with Miriam Schapiro's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Show influences

Artists

Sonia DelaunaySonia Delaunay
Frida KahloFrida Kahlo
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso

Personal Contacts

Judy ChicagoJudy Chicago
Philip GustonPhilip Guston
Joan MitchellJoan Mitchell
Larry RiversLarry Rivers

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
CubismCubism
Feminist ArtFeminist Art
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Miriam Schapiro
Miriam Schapiro
Years Worked: 1943 - 2015
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Mira SchorMira Schor
Hannah WilkeHannah Wilke

Personal Contacts

Carolee SchneemannCarolee Schneemann
Judy ChicagoJudy Chicago

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Feminist ArtFeminist Art
CollageCollage

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino
Available from:
First published on 17 Jan 2017. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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