About the Exhibits - Cross-Dressing for the Battlefield
This is exhibit, Cross-Dressing for the Battlefield, is extra special because it’s a collaboration between two incredible galleries, Lyles & King and Salon 94 from April 29 - May 29, 2021.
“The show is called “Cross-dressing for the Battlefield,” and Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for heresy and for crossdressing.” - Natalie Frank for Sculpture Magazine (source)
It’s clear right when you walk into Lyles & King Gallery that Frank was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party and Joan of Arc. The walls are covered with drawings on vinyl...which are the perfect way to display Frank’s detailed portraits made from paper pulp.
“With their embellish hairstyles and delicate visages, Frank’s rococo-inspired characters – excepting the Joan of Arc figure in Woman with Armor III (2021) – are so beautifully rendered, the paper works almost appear wet with paint, as if fashioned in richly layered impasto on raw canvas.” - Frieze (source)
Natalie Frank’s portraits are of female characters that are strong, confronting the viewer both literally and figuratively in the sense they’re challenging the stereotypical ideal of what women should look and act like.
“In giving us back the women heroines and images and lives that were once the heart and soul of the oldest stories, Natalie Frank is giving back...the right to honor and tell our own stories.” — Gloria Steinem
“It’s feminist portraiture. The women are always looking out at the viewer, kind of confrontationally, direct stares, a little carnivalesque, a little bit of drag.” - Natalie Frank for Sculpture Magazine (source)
The ‘women’ surround a center table filled with ceramics (some of the most incredible ceramics I’ve ever seen btw).
Once again Natalie plays with literal and figurative symbolism, she paints the female portrait onto these ceramics, or vessels, playing with the concept that a woman is a vessel.
“I really like the associations with domesticity, religious connotations of a woman as a chalice, and these sorts of symbols that are really embedded in the history of art, and blurring the line between functional objects and painting, and their different gender associations.” - Natalie Frank for Sculpture Magazine (source)
Another thing I love about Natalie’s work is how she uses her imagination to create these otherworldly characters that you just become immersed in.
She describes a little bit of her process for Sculpture Magazine.
“I work from a combination of photographs, imagery I find on the Internet, and imagination. With drawing I sit down and if I’m going to think of a scene in a book, I know what’s going to happen on that page, the action that’s going to occur.” - Natalie Frank for Sculpture Magazine (source)
I just love the collaboration between these two galleries as well as the unique setup the Lyles & King offered to really highlight Frank’s portraits.
She has a museum exhibit coming at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Missouri in 2022, so although the exhibit is closing soon at least I know there’s another show on the horizon soon!
Video of the Exhibits
To see a video walkthrough of the exhibits, skip ahead to 3:48 in the video below.
About the Artist - Natalie Frank
Natalie Frank is an American artist who lives and works in Brooklyn. She received a BA from Yale University and an MFA from Columbia.
“Her work deals with themes of power, sexuality, gender, feminism, and identity” - Wikipedia (source)