Tuesday, November 8, 2016

1902-1988: Isabel Bishop, American

Self-Portrait, 1927

Background: Born in Cincinnati and raised in Detroit.

Training: Isabel Bishop went to New York City for her art training. At the age of 29 she traveled to Europe with Kenneth Hayes Miller and Reginald Marsh, both more recognized artists, to study the old masters.

Private life: She was 32 when she married a neurologist and moved to a suburb of New York, where she later had one son.

Artwork: Most of Bishop’s work was created in a studio near Union Square that she maintained for 50 years, and it features the kind of people she saw there, everyday working people, mainly women, presented in a traditional style with muted coloration. Her work generally features just one or two figures, often a close-up of some personal activity.

Dante and Virgil in Union Square, 1932 is unusual as a panoramic view and humorous for imagining Dante, a medieval dramatist wearing a red cloak, and the ancient Roman poet, Virgil, with a laurel wreath on his head, in a contemporary setting. The artist connected the hordes of ordinary souls that confront Dante and Virgil in hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy with the hordes of human beings that passed through Union Square at rush hour.