Krannert displays famous painting


By David Ruvinskiy, Staff Writer

After watching a Madonna concert named “Blonde Ambition” in 1990, University alumna Louise Fishman felt compelled to recreate the connection she felt with the artist through a painting of the same name, which will be on display starting Feb. 28 at the Krannert Art Museum.

Fishman’s painting will be the centerpiece of the exhibition entitled “Emphatic: American Painting from the Collection.” Amy Powell, curator of modern and contemporary art at Krannert, acquired “Blonde Ambition” using the John N. Chester endowment fund after seeing it in paintings retrospective in North Carolina.

Julia Kelly, communications and marketing director at Krannert, said it is important for Krannert to have Fishman’s painting in its collection because of her prominence as an alumna of the University.

“Her work is really monumental in size, and when you see ‘Blonde Ambition’, it’s huge,” Kelly said. “Just kind of imagine the process of creating it as being something that the artist would do as a very physical gestural act.”

The painting, more than 7-feet tall and 5-feet wide, portrays thick white banners of paint bending on a dark background, Powell said. The painting consists of purple and brown colors and can be seen as a woman throwing her head back.

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“I’ve only seen it in certain contexts, and this is a brand new one, and it’s at a place where I went to school and where I’m going to be having a major show,” Fishman said. “So it’s very exciting. It’s like firecrackers going off.”

Powell thinks Fishman’s status as a feminist, lesbian and Jewish artist adds to Fishman’s paintings.

“We have a number of strong paintings in the collection that really make a statement,” Powell said. “They have an incredible emotional effect, a kind of physical effect, on the viewers. So I wanted to try to group ‘Blonde Ambition’ with other paintings from the collection that have a similar effect.”

Powell hopes students who visit the exhibition will take away a sense of the Krannert collection and the importance of the paintings in the collection. She also wants students to take away the relevance of older paintings to current events.

In addition to having her work displayed in the exhibition, Fishman will be giving a lecture on April 24. During her lecture, she wants to inspire students at the University and provide as much information as possible about the experiences of making art.

“The best thing I can say about looking at a piece of art is that it inspires you to make art,” Fishman said. “That’s a shorthand for what I think would be the takeaway: Go to your studio and make some art.”

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Correction: A previous version of this article erroneously stated Louise Fishman watched a Marilyn Monroe concert named “Blonde Ambition” when it was Madonna’s concert. It also misstated the year of the tour as 1995. The Daily Illini regrets these errors.