Hannah Wilke Hannah Wilke’s work laid bare at the Pulitzer Art Foundation

The Art Newspaper Jun 01, 2021

“Hannah Wilke was a provocateur—a certain notoriety followed her and she also cultivated it,” says Tamara Schenkenberg, the curator of an exhibition at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St Louis dedicated to the pioneering feminist artist who used the taboo subject and form of the vagina as her central motif. “She’s an interesting figure, both well-known and influential, but also understudied.”

The exhibition Hannah Wilke: Art for Life's Sake (4 June- 16 January 2022) features nearly 120 works spanning three decades, from the artist’s early suggestive boxlike vessels in clay made in the early 1960s while a student studying sculpture at the Stella Elkins Tyler School of Fine Arts near Philadelphia, to her more overtly vulvic shapes layered or folded by hand in clay, latex, kneaded eraser or chewed gum—and sometimes incorporated into her photographs and videos of herself performing disrobed in the 1970s. It also includes Wilke's photographs documenting her mother’s cancer and then the ravages on her own body from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, from which she died in 1993 at age 52.

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