Material Girl: The Work of Marjorie Strider
Sexy, intelligent, and subversive, Strider’s oeuvre spans multiple movements and confronts our expectations.
Marjorie Strider’s (1934-2014) body of work encompasses painting, performance art as well as site-specific Claes Oldenburg-inspired installations of soft sculpture. Undeniably, however, she is best known for her subtly subversive three-dimensional paintings inspired by the types of advertisements seen in men’s magazines of the 1960s. Strider is an iconic figure within the Pop Art movement - a solitary character as a female artist exhibiting amongst her male contemporaries such as Warhol, Wesselman, and Lichtenstein.
Her early work offers a unique female perspective by appropriating the most popular Pop art motifs to her own purpose. A painting such as Bond Girl reads very differently by a female artist due to the nature of the source material, which plays upon the male-dominated arena of advertising and consumer culture and the use of the female form as an advertising tactic. By repurposing the female form, Strider cleverly subverts this context by giving a new role to the type of stereotypical imagery found in the advertising of the Mad-Men era.
Roy Lichtenstein, Girl with Ball, 1961, oil on canvas, 60 ¼ x 36 ¼ inches(Image courtesy of MoMA)
Materially, Bond Girl presents a gorgeous construction - the work reads as both a sculpture as well as a painting, projecting into space with a dominating presence. Materiality is a central component of Strider’s work, with the artist having explored the idea of presence and form conceptually as a member of the 1960s avant-garde, collaborating on various projects with Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, and Vito Acconci. In 1969, Strider helped organize the first Street Work, a public art event and Happening, where she hung thirty empty picture frames in various random locations around Manhattan.
Later in her career, Strider revisited three-dimensional paintings, exploring the themes anew in the context of our visually over-saturated contemporary popular culture. What may seem easy to understand at first glance for their subject matter—fruitful young bodies, sensual lips, and eyes—take on a new meaning with a consideration to the materials used. In Bond Girl, the female figure is turned alluringly towards the viewer, yet her head is curiously obstructed by thick, colorful bands, causing our expectations and the presentation to jarringly collide. The lines are strong, bold, asking for no permission. The material itself flips our expectations, as the heavy wood construction is sculptural, heavy, solid, a direct juxtaposition to the connotations of “pop”.
A retrospective of Strider's work toured from 1982 to 1985 across the United States. Venues included the Sculpture Center, New York; Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, and the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas. Strider’s work is housed in numerous public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo New York, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana.