Miriam Laufer: A Retrospective
Essay by Diana Manister (1981)
Miriam Laufer’s paintings are notable for their intensity of feeling, the vibrancy of the brushwork and color, and the fluid handling of the paint. Attraction to strong colors–red, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange—and an avoidance of muddy and subdued tones is characteristic; a color sense reflecting her own abundantly energetic, outgoing nature. Equally predominant are the recurrent female figures–sensuous, revealing nudes and self-portraits in oil as well as the many ink and wash drawings that she did from models. Overall, her work involves the integration of an expressive concern for figuration with an underlying commitment to pure form and color.
Laufer’s work evolved over the years from the portraits, figure studies, and abstract landscapes of the 1950s and early 1960s, through to the complex figurative work of the late 60s, and on to the autobiographical paintings on windshields and the large geometric abstractions of the 70s, which are primarily concerned with the push-pull contrast of hard-edge geometric forms with loose brushwork and organic forms.
Contrasts and Connections Paintings by Miriam Laufer and Susan Bee
Essay by Johanna Drucker
The painter Miriam Laufer was the mother of artist Susan (Laufer) Bee. But is any similarity in their works due to this connection?
Obviously, the influence of sensibility passes by example, as much as anything else. The model of an artist-who-is-a-mother must be a powerful formative force for a young woman growing up with aspirations to her own artistic career. But the shared sensibility linking these two painters goes beyond the mere fact that both chose the same medium. A specific quality of approach connects them to each other in a filiation that demonstrates certain shared attitudes towards paint, and subject matter, approach and expression, even though each artist contends with her own generational and historical frame.
Miriam Laufer: Twentieth-Century Voyage
Essay by Susan Bee
The life story of my mother, Miriam Laufer, has many elements shared by Jews of her generation caught between the violent dissolution of an Old World lifestyle and the adoption of a new diasporic one. Personal changes were mirrored in political changes and vice versa, and her journey from childhood to adulthood traced a voyage through the nations also in transition, crossing borders and territories whose identities were also shifting.
Rediscovered Feminist Rebel – Artist Miriam Laufer
Article by Timothy Francis Barry
It may be that rust never sleeps, but art world reputations can and do nod off: quite often artist and bodies of work that were once celebrated drift into the netherworld of the neglected or fall into the coma of the forgotten. For every Agnes Martin and Philip Guston — artists whose stature and influence continue to burgeon over the decades — there are slews of Janet Fishes, Vikky Alexanders, Jack Beals, and Rhonda Zwillingers — artists who once occupied museum spaces and took up pages of Artforum and Art In America, but whose reputations have now ebbed with the tides of art history.
For This Mother and Daughter, The Family Business Is Culture
Article by Joshua Cohen
Blood might be thicker than water, as the adage goes, but paint is thicker than both. Immigrant artist Miriam Laufer, who died in 1980, was the mother of Manhatten Upper West Sider Susan Bee, and matriarch to one of the most experimental and intense artistic dynasties of Jewish New York.
Seeing Double; Susan Bee and Miriam Laufer
Article by Robert C. Morgan
Miriam Laufer (1918-1980) painted large Fauve-like nudes – as in the two untitled paintings in the exhibition (dated 1964 and 1965)–and medium-scaled abstract compositions, such as “Counterpoint” (1975), also in the exhibition. Laufer’s approach to the two genres is both lively and persuasive.