Corset Urns and Other Inventions: 1968-1980
In the late 1960’s, Christina Ramberg studied with Ray Yoshida at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Yoshida, who encouraged the use of commercial and popular cultural imagery, led a group of artists who came to be known as the Imagists who distinguished themselves from the art scenes in New York and Europe with high color figurative paintings and drawings. Mining comic books, magazines, and lingerie catalogs for references, Ramberg and her contemporaries such as Ed Paschke, Roger Brown, Jim Nutt, and Gladys Nilsson, among others, stand out as the forerunners of a distinctly American Pop approach to painting that is sexy, irreverent, and renegade in attitude. Ramberg painted parts of women’s bodies, like bound torsos, hands, waists, and hair, rendering them in seductive, sleek surfaces and muted colors. No faces ever appear in Ramberg’s works, and this precise cropping denies complicity between the gaze of the viewer and the subject. Haunting and perverse, Ramberg’s immaculately produced paintings stand in stark contrast to the hundreds of drawings she made, compulsively exploring shape and form in every possible variation of whatever subject she chose. Corsets, girdles, and bras were a particular obsession, for they not only served to shape the body to conform to an ideal, but they also symbolize the need to contain and heighten female sexuality.
Christina Ramberg was born in 1946 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky and died in 1995 in Chicago. She received her BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her first exhibition was in 1968 in a group show at the famous Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago along with fellow “False Imagists” such as Roger Brown, Philip Hanson, and Eleanor Dube. Ramberg’s works have been exhibited at the Renaissance Society, Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the ICA Philadelphia, and other museums in the United States and internationally. This is Ramberg’s first exhibition at David Nolan Gallery.