Monday, November 23, 2009

Florine Stettheimer ~ Portrait of Myself

Florine Stettheimer really didn't like to have photos taken of her. So unlike her sisters Ettie (writer) and Carrie (crafter of dollhouses), there are not many photographic images of her available. To make up for that though, Florine did include herself in many of her paintings and did at least one self-portrait – Portrait of Myself, today's lead image. Florine lived a life of privilege. She and her sisters spent much of their lives in Manhattan and frequently visited Europe where Florine studied with various artists and schools. Her only solo exhibition in 1916 was somewhat of a disappointment to her so she chose to exhibit only occasionally in group shows after that. As a result not many were aware of her work while she was alive and after her death it has only been recently that she is being recognized at major museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art usually has an entire gallery wall devoted to her work. And of course, the Portland Art Museum has her Portrait of My Teacher. Below are photos of Florine (one of the very few in existence) and one of each of her two sisters.

Florine Stettheimer, ~ 1920

Ettie Stettheimer, 1932

Carrie Stettheimer, 1932

The three sisters entertained on a grand scale having parties and afternoon salons in their Manhattan apartment. Some of their well known friends were Carl Van Vechten, Francis Picabia, Leo Stein, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Charles Demuth, and Marsden Hartley. Stettheimer painted a number of their portraits including these two of Marcel Duchamp and Carl Van Vechten.
Marcel Duchamp, 1923

Carl Van Vechten, 1922

Most of us are more familiar with Duchamp than we are with Van Vechten. Picking out the symbols she used in Duchamp's portrait, I found reference to his cultural allegiances to both the United States and France and his love of chess. The woman in that painting it turns out isn't Stettheimer but his alter ego, Rrose Sélavy. And of course the clock most probably is symbolizing his fascination with time and space.

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