Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to present One Plus or Minus One, an exhibition of never-before shown works by May Stevens. One Plus or Minus One is based on the eponymous 1988 New Museum exhibition curated by William Olander. The 1988 exhibition included billboard-sized photo-murals made from photostats of paintings that were themselves based on photographs, which were then collaged and rephotographed--intentionally mirroring the revisions made to women's history. The show focused on two particular events in the life of Rosa Luxemburg, the Marxist and cofounder of the German Communist Party, whom Stevens has referred to as her "spiritual mother": her presence as a German delegate at the socialist congress The Second International (Amsterdam, 1904) and her assassination by German soldiers in 1919.
The exhibition at the gallery includes the monumental paintings on which Stevens based the photo-murals, as well as related studies, none of which have ever been publically exhibited. The paintings, largely black, white, and gray depict the ghostly faces of those in attendance with Rosa at The Second International and the men who murdered her being served by a young waitress at the Eden Hotel, where they went to celebrate their criminal success. Stevens' own writing, poetic and powerful, is printed on one of the gallery walls, as it was at the New Museum. A selection of works on paper from throughout Stevens' career, including works from the Big Daddy and Water series, will also be on view.
Stevens, now 87, is a pioneering feminist artist and founding member of the feminist magazine Heresies. She has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, most recently "Crossing Time" at the IDEA Center at Colorado College (2010) as well as at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC; and the Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO. In addition to the venues above, her work is in many museum collections including the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Taos Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. She lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is her ninth solo show at the gallery.