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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Phyllis Bramson


A recipient of three National Endowments, a Senior Fulbight Scholar, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant, a 2004 Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue Jury Award and a 2009 Anonymous Was a Woman Award.

Over thirty one-person exhibitions, including those at The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Cultural Center of Chicago; Boulder Art Museum; the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (mid-career survey); The Rockford Art Museum; and The Chicago Cultural Center (retrospective 1895-2016).

Included in numerous group exhibitions at Seattle Art Museum; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Smart Museum; Renwick Museum; and the Corcoran Museum’s 43rd Painting Biennial.

Bramson lives and paints in Chicago and has been advising painting and drawing graduate students at the School of the Art Institute at Chicago since 2007. She was awarded Professor Emerita from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 2007.

Bramson is represented by Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago Illinois.

Feminist Artist Statement

My work is infused with lighthearted arbitrariness and amusing antidotes about love and affection in an often cold and hostile world. Mostly, I am making work that percolates forth life’s imperfections: that doesn’t take decorum all that seriously, refusing to separate manners of taste from larger questions about “good (girl) behavior”. The paintings are reactions to all sorts of sensuous events, from the casual encounter to highly formalized exchanges of lovemaking (and everything in between). Miniaturized schemes, which meander between love, desire, pleasure and tragedy; all channeled through seasonal changes. Burlesque-like and usually theatrical incidents, that allow for both empathy and folly, while projecting capricious irritability with comic bumps along the way.

The art writer Miranda McClintoc wrote: “Phyllis Bramson’s imaginative portrayals of stereotypical sexual relationships incorporate the passionate complexity of eastern mythology, the sexual innuendos of soap operas and sometimes the happy endings of cartoons.” James Yood, the art writer and critic, claims that Chicago figuration always involves figures under duress.

Of increasing importance is the challenge of the field on which the painting’s narrative operates, since it is no longer a firm support for the space in between things. The use of luscious planes of pure prismatic color, layer upon layer of subtly graduated glazes, create saturated color fields onto which subjects can frolic freely. The finished works become a site for sexual discourse pushed into a precarious state that the viewer can get lost in.

The central source of my imagery usually comes from experiences and memories that have to do with some sort of “traveling”. Narratives used as a repository for feelings, which often collide and intermingle between notions of the personal and at the same time, propose a story that doesn’t tell the ending. Paintings that wobble between private subjective values, social concerns, self subscribed metaphors, illusion and cliché. It is the materiality, the philosophical as well as visual aspects of making a painting that that drives my work. Luscious, albeit often overblown concoctions that become phantasmagoric shifts about desire, success, failure, faith and seduction, all intoxicatingly enveloped in my desire to project beauty.

<p>What is One’s Real Life?</p>

What is One’s Real Life?

What is One’s Real Life?

Courtship Rituals (happiness, even after)

Little Miss . . .

Dark Was the Night

Harvesting Women

A Rendezvous (who loves me best?)

The Seven Dwarfs (the other story)

The Collector’s Collection, (all that he owns!)

72 x 60 in, mixed media and collage on canvas, 2014

The Good Keeper of All Living Things

60 x 70 in, mixed media on canvas, 2016

Glow, mixed media on canvas

60 x 70 in, 2017

Leaving Adam

54 x 54 in, mixed media and collage on canvas, 2014



411 S. Sangamon
Chicago, 60607



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