Allegra LaViola and Meredith Rosen founded Sargent’s Daughters in November of 2013.
Tell us a little about Sargent’s Daughters, which borrows its name from John Singer Sargent. How was his practice an inspiration for the space? Didn’t you have an all female exhibition this summer?
The gallery opened in November 2013 and Sargent was an inspiration for a number of reasons. He was a traditionalist who could not help but be innovative, which was appealing as we are working with contemporary artists, but still interested in the historical and formal qualities of art. Also of importance to us was the dialogue between different generations of artists– historically and contemporaneously.
We did have a 40 woman exhibition this summer entitled “Sargent’s Daughters”, in which we asked the artists to contribute a work that was, in some way, inspired by Sargent. We were curious about the influence of someone so well known for his paintings of women– and how that translates to female artists today.
You focus on artists whose work combines qualities of tradition and cutting edge. What do you find interesting about exhibiting traditional techniques in a time when the art world is very focused on the Internet and new technology? Who are some new or emerging artists who are taking an interesting approach to classical technique?
What is most of interest to us is the quality of work– not necessarily being about traditional techniques. Someone like Petra Cortright or Cory Archangel (both of whom work in new technology) are fascinating because there is the common art historical thread that weaves through their work. An artist making very traditional, but dull, oil paintings would not be of interest simply by virtue of his technique. I am also not sure the art world is actually that focused on new technology– people still love paintings!
There is an abundance of emerging artists who are approaching classical techniques in their own ways. Jesse Mockrin, Jordan Casteel, Brad Jones (an ongoing collaboration by Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell) are artists whose works have captivated us recently.
Your current exhibition, Brad Jones (an ongoing collaboration by Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell): Diptychs, is both a performance and an exhibition of traditional portraiture. Who is “Brad Jones” and what drew you the project?
Brad Jones is the name of an ongoing collaboration between Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell, initiated in April 2013. The artists meet three times a week for two hours at a time to engage in live portrait painting sessions in which Twilley always paints and Rubell always poses. As a conceptual frame around their portrait practice, they named the collaboration “Brad Jones,” conceived as the quintessential great American (male) painter.
What drew us to the project was both the paintings themselves, which are beautifully done, and the concept of the project. We are used to looking at nude women painted by men. The women are often anonymous and, even when they are famous, are eclipsed by the man who paints them. What if the sitter were just as active a participant as the painter? What if she also had ownership of the body of work that is, literally, her own body? Brad Jones both asks and answers these questions- and that was of deep importance to us as active participants in the art world.