Exhibition - Rachel Feinstein: Maiden, Mother, Crone

Monday, Dec 21, 2020 at 11:00am

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128

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The first survey of New York-based artist Rachel Feinstein featuring three decades of the artist's work in sculpture, painting, and video, as well as a panoramic wallpaper, a major new commission, and the artist’s maquettes for sculpture.

Rachel Feinstein's art is defined by dualities: her investigations of masculinity and femininity or good and evil are echoed in her formal explorations of balance and precariousness or positive and negative space. Her subjects, too, are drawn from oppositions and tensions: religion and fairy tales, high European craft and low American kitsch, her needs as an artist and the needs of her family. She explores these conflicts through characters borrowed from biblical and folk sources as well as objects from material culture, deconstructed and reimagined, suggesting that there is no fact without fiction, light without darkness, tranquility without chaos.

Feinstein’s process similarly embraces divergent methods and materials. Her three-dimensional objects evolve from two-dimensional sketches translated into small handmade maquettes, which are then exploded to larger-than-life-size scale and fabricated in wood, metal, or ceramic. Traces of an object’s hand-drawn origins may survive in a monochromatic palette, compressed depth, or sweeping, organic lines. Her polychrome figures are as painterly as they are sculptural, composed with bright hues and subtle tones built up with layers of pigmented synthetic resin.

Each of the exhibition’s spaces contains elements reminiscent of stage scenery—a theatrical curtain, video, and panoramic wallpaper. These echo Feinstein’s early experiments with performance, in which she positioned herself as both the subject and object of the viewer’s gaze. Feinstein’s art follows myriad lines of inquiry, but the idea of the feminine is central. She has made a sustained examination of the many ways this concept is manifested culturally. Female protagonists and figures proliferate in her work and bind it together across diverse media.

The exhibition’s title names three consequential stages in a woman’s life, a progression from youth to old age that also signals her accumulation of knowledge and complexity. Here, Feinstein is thinking of the neopagan deity the Triple Goddess—a simultaneous embodiment of maiden, mother, and crone—in whom past and present, inexperience and wisdom, fragility and power are inextricably entwined.

Kelly Taxter

Barnett and Annalee Newman Curator of Contemporary Art

Rachel Feinstein was born in Fort Defiance, Arizona in 1971. She received her BA from Columbia University in 1993, where she studied studio art and religion and worked closely with Kiki Smith and Ursula von Rydingsvard. That same year she attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Beginning with the group exhibition Let The Artist Live, at New York’s Exit Art in 1994, Feinstein has continued to exhibit her work internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include: Folly, Madison Square Park, New York; The Snow Queen, Lever House, New York; and Tropical Rodeo, Le Consortium, Dijon.


Rachel Feinstein: Maiden, Mother, Crone is organized by Kelly Taxter, Barnett and Annalee Newman Curator of Contemporary Art, The Jewish Museum.

Annabelle Selldorf of Selldorf Architects is contributing the exhibition design.

A companion monograph, designed by Richard Pandiscio and published by Rizzoli Electa, will be available this October, with a lead essay by Taxter and contributions by Marc Jacobs, Florence Welch, Tamara Jenkins, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Sarah Sze, and Lisa Yuskavage, among others.

The exhibition is made possible by the Knapp Family Foundation, The Susan and Leonard Feinstein Foundation, Ann and Mel Schaffer, Melva Bucksbaum Fund for Contemporary Art, the Peter Jay Sharp Exhibition Fund, The Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation, and other generous donors. In-kind support is provided by Gagosian Gallery.

Exhibition Date: November 1, 2019 - January 17, 2021 

Following a six-month closure, the Jewish Museum will reopen for its members on Thursday, September 24, and to everyone on Thursday, October 1.

In accordance with government regulations and health guidance, visitors must reserve timed tickets and observe additional policies as part of their visit.  

Admission is free through December 31, 2020. Timed tickets are required to help the Museum maintain a building capacity of 25% and an appropriate socially distanced visit for all guests. Members must also reserve timed tickets.

A limited number of timed tickets are available per 15-minute time slot, up to one month in advance. Please plan to arrive on time, as space limitations prohibit waiting inside the Museum building.

Reserve Tickets starting Thursday, October 1, 2020

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