Tag Archives: Jane N. Haslem Collection

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY’s wood engraving “Vanity” on view at Yale University Art Gallery

2 Jan

Morton Fine Art is proud to announce that ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY’s wood engraving “Vanity” is on display at the Yale University Art Gallery.

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY, Vanity, wood engraving

Rosemary Feit Covey
South African and American, born 1954
Vanity
1988
Wood engraving
Edition 35/80
In this domestic tableau, the dressing room and table of Washington D.C.–based printmaker Rosemary Feit Covey are transformed into the stage set for a vanitas—traditionally, a type of still-life painting in which skeletons, skulls, and decaying objects serve to caution against the transience of earthly pleasures. One of the premier wood engravers of the contemporary period, Covey here makes an allegory of herself by drawing a parallel between the artist’s laborious process of direct carving into a wood block to render the black-and-white portrait and her similarly difficult work of maintaining the appearance of youth and beauty, with the aid of colorful makeup and jewelry.
Self-Portrait Prints from the Jane N. Haslem Collection
Curator’s Statement
Scholars have debated whether William Shakespeare’s well-known words “This above all, to thine own self be true,” spoken by the courtier Polonius to his son Laertes in the first act of Hamlet, were meant ironically. In any case, the words were not directed at artists. But when we look at an artist’s self-portrait, we assume that he or she is conveying something truthful—even if, indeed, the image is clearly ironic, as is Robert Arneson’s self- portrait as a classical bust, or if the artist refers to the biblical story of Salome, as does Larry Day, or if the figure appears in the age-old guise of an allegory of Vanity, as does Rosemary Feit Covey. Covey’s print, in fact, speaks to one of the fundamental reasons artists make self- portraits: to assert, in defiance of the skeletal figure lurking behind each of us, “I am here,” in the present, and—even more importantly—in the future, “I was here.”
These works, selected from a recent gift to the Gallery from Jane N. Haslem of sixty-eight printed self-portraits by twentieth-century American artists, range in mood from contented to haunted, in tone from earnest to sardonic, in composition from a straightforward head and shoulders to the complex scenarios of John Wilde or Peter Milton. They vary significantly in size, and they were produced by a broad gamut of printmaking media— woodcut, etching, engraving, drypoint, and lithography. Yet, with all of these variations, each print persuades us that it is true to the artist’s self.
Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
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