“Ruth Weisberg: Touchstones” includes her major painting, “The Blessing,” (shown above) which was the centerpiece of the Weisberg exhibition at the Norton Simon Museum in 2008, when she was invited to create a body of work inspired by a painting of her choosing in the museum’s collection (Guido Cagnacci’s “Martha Rebuking Mary for Her Vanity”). Weisberg was the first contemporary painter afforded a solo exhibition at the Norton Simon Museum. She also holds that honored distinction as the first contemporary painter to have a solo exhibition at the Huntington Museum in 1999, when she created a series of works inspired by a William Blake engraving in the museum’s collection. “Touchstones” will also present works exhibited in that historic exhibition.
Through veils of washes and tones, Weisberg brings times past into contemporary context. Memory is a dominant point of origin and departure in these paintings, drawings and original prints. Her themes meld different artforms, as in her “La Comedia e Finita” (1977), depicting Watteau’s “Pierrot” pulling back the curtain on the climactic scene in Marcel Carnet’s epic 1943/45 film, “Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise)”. (shown above)
This exhibition also includes her most recent themed works, “Brief Encounter” (2023), inspired by the 1945 classic British film of the same title.
Included in “Ruth Weisberg: Touchstones” is Weisberg’s “Waterbourne” (1973), often cited as one of the most iconic images of the women’s movement. Here, the artist joins both symbolic and literal reflections of light, and in this case, a personal passage of impending motherhood and the broader empowerment of women. (shown above)
Other recurring themes include diaspora and homecoming, phantom lovers and rites of passage. Her depictions of grouped children, as in “Together Again,” 1975, (shown at left) and “On the Journey” (1987) are as evocative of memories of her own childhood in Chicago as they are to projections of those children lost in the Holocaust.
Ruth Weisberg is currently a professor at the University of Southern California, where she was the longest tenured Dean of its school of art and design. Her first major survey in Los Angeles was in 1979 at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery.
The subject of over 80 solo and nearly 200 group exhibitions, Weisberg’s work is included in the permanent collections of over 60 museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Whitney Museum of American Art, Portland Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Getty Research Institute, Norton Simon Museum of Art, Huntington Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Detroit Institute of Arts, Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, and Rome Institute Nationale per la Grafica, among many others.
Ruth Weisberg is greatly celebrated as a printmaker. In 1997, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art curated the critical survey exhibition on the monotype entitled “Singular Impressions”, where her work was significantly featured, and where Weisberg was a distinguished speaker in its educational program.