Dangerous Women at The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU, February 17 – May 20, 2018

“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 saving their people, paragons of family goodness and repenting their sins for lives of virtue, others were portrayed as harlots and hussies, purveyors of sin, deadly temptresses and seductresses. Featuring spectacular and thought-provoking Old Master paintings from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the exhibition showcases more than twenty paintings and etchings of women found in the Bible masterfully rendered by 16th and 17-century artists, including: Pietro da Cortona, Fede Galizia, Pordenone, Giovanni Andrea Sirani and Francesco del Cairo. Many of these works are accompanied by Old Master prints and drawings, including Jan Saenredam’s series entitled 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.” — FIU

Palma Vecchio (Jacopo Negretti) (Italian, Serina, near Bergamo, 1479/80–1528 Venice). Herodias with the Head of John the Baptist, ca. 1515–20. Oil on wood, 93.3 × 82.2 cm. Bequest of John Ringling 1936

Antonio Negretti (Anronio Palma) (Italian, Serina, near Bergamo, 1515 (?)–after 1574 Venice). Esther before Ahasuerus, 1574. Oil on canvas, 170.2 × 312.4 cm. Bequest of John Ringling, 1936

Sisto Badalocchio (Parma 1585–1619 Parma). Susannah and the Elders, ca. 1602–10. Oil on canvas, 162.4 × 111.4 cm. Bequest of John Ringling 1936

Pietro da Cortona (Pietro Berrettini) (Cortona 1596–1669 Rome). Hagar and the Angel, ca. 1643. Oil on canvas, 114.3 × 149.4 cm. Bequest of John Ringling, 1936

Karel Dujardin (Dutch, Amsterdam 1622–1678 Venice). Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, ca. 1662. Oil on canvas, 187.3 × 142.9 cm. Bequest of John Ringling, 1936

Fede Galizia (Italian, Milan or Trent 1578–1630 Milan). Judith with the Head of Holofernes, 1596. Oil on canvas, 143.3 × 118.1 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Polak, 1969

Francesco Cairo (Italian, Milanese, 1607–1665). Judith with the Head of Holofernes, ca. 1633–37. Oil on canvas, 119.1 × 94.3 cm. Museum Purchase, 1966

Followers of Domenico Gargiulo (“Micco Spadaro”) (Italian, Naples 1609/10–1675 Naples (?)) and Bernardo Cavallino (Italian, Naples 1616–1656 Naples) active in the workshop of Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian, Rome 1593–1651/53 Naples). Bathsheba at her Bath, 1650s. Oil on canvas, 84.5 × 115.6 cm. Gift of Asbjørn R. Lunde, 1976

Robert Henri (American, Cincinnati 1865–1929 New York). Salome, 1909. Oil on canvas, 196.9 × 94 cm. Museum purchase, 1974

Mickalene Thomas (American, Camden, New Jersey, 1971). Portrait of Mamma Bush, 2010. Rhinestones, acrylic and enamel on wood, 84 x 108 inches

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 director of the museum in Miami that distinguishes itself by presenting works that span all historical periods, I want our public 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,” adds Pomeroy.

Images courtesy The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum.