Hortense's Mirror

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    The Artist

  • Exhibited

    Florence, Villa La Pietra, Regarding Women in the Acton Collection, June 25 - December 14, 2017

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born 1948, Philadelphia, PA
    Lives and works in New York, NY

    PhD, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
    MA, City College of New York, New York, NY
    MFA, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
    BFA, Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, PA

    Selected honors: Susan Koppelman Award (2011); John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow (2005); The Studio Museum in Harlem Award for Achievement in Scholarship (2001); MacArthur Fellow (2000); Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation (1996)
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, AZ; New Museum, New York, NY; Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; International Center of Photography. New York; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
    Selected public collections: Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Center for Creative Photography, Duke University, North Carolina

    As an artist, author, curator and preeminent historian of African American photography, Deborah Willis's art and pioneering research has focused on cultural histories envisioning the black body, women and gender. Photography is embedded in her DNA – her father was a photographer, as is her son, the conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas.

    As Willis writes of the present work: “Hortense’s Mirror explores the ways in which the concept of beauty and desire has been represented in an historical and contemporary context through the intimate space of the closet. Throughout the history of art and image-making, beauty as an aesthetic impulse has been simultaneously idealized and challenged, and the relationship between beauty and identity has become increasingly complex within contemporary art and popular culture. My work challenges the relationship between beauty and desire by examining the representation of fashion and reinvention. Beauty as an act is fraught with meanings and attitudes about class, race, gender, and aesthetics. My project focuses on framing Hortense’s Mirror as reinvention of the New Woman at the turn of the 20th century through the 1930s. This installation is part of a project that explores a new way of looking at women as consumers, fashion and art through the personal safe space of the closet.”


Hortense's Mirror

inkjet on rag paper, in 3 parts
each 64 x 36 in. (162.6 x 91.4 cm.)
Executed in 2017.

Estimate on Request



New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019