#SaveTheDate Berlin! n her solo exhibition, All Muses are Dead, Donna Volta Newmen focuses on the complex characters and hidden histories of the artists, inventors, political wire-pullers, and patrons hidden behind the countless, often anonymous portraits of women in Western art history and its institutions.
Her portraits insist on the authorship, autonomy, (self-)representation, and subjectivity of the depicted persons. Newmen’s historical, personally known or sometimes fictional figures are stubborn, defying the male gaze’s ideals of beauty and grace; they are rebellious or vulnerable, at times marked by age or exhaustion, at times demonstratively self-assured in their appearance. Respecting the individuality of her subjects, the artist abandons the serial language characteristic of printmaking – line etching, aquatint, mezzotint, and drypoint – by employing painterly elements of monotype. The results are not editions, but individual works.
By declaring death to the muses, Donna Volta Newman’s new works create critical references to (art) historically female-attributed roles, while celebrating those personalities who have been structurally excluded from art history or reduced to the status of muses. In All Muses are Dead, their defiant poses stand in as subversive and emancipatory gestures for processes of social and political change in historical as well as contemporary contexts of self-representation.