Conversation Piece

Joan Jonas’s Symbolic Shawl

Joan Jonas’s Symbolic Shawl
Joan Jonas's Shawl, 2015

Here’s what you need to know to talk about Joan Jonas’sShawl (2015):

1. Active since the 1970s, Jonas laid the groundwork for both feminist and video art with pioneering pieces like Vertical Roll (1972) that explore how the medium of the moving image can be used to challenge sexist representations of the female body.

2. These contributions to American art have earned her numerous honors throughout her long career; Jonas was chosen to represent the United States for this year’s Venice Biennale, where she created a magic-infused video installation for the American Pavilion. 

3. This piece shows Jonas working with the symbolic animal imagery (in this case, a butterfly rendered with the delicacy of a Japanese ink drawing) that has characterized much of her recent work.

4. Scarves and shawls have proven to be fertile terrain for exploring art beyond the gallery wall, with artists like Jeff Koons, Ai Weiwei, and Francis Upritchard applying their iconic imagery to these woven wearables.


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