Romaine Brooks lived most of her life in Paris where she was a leading figure of an artistic counterculture of upper-class Europeans and American expatriates, many of whom were creative, bohemian, and homosexual. Brooks crafted an androgynous appearance that challenged conventional ideas of how women should look and behave, and these ideas extended to many of the portraits she painted in the 1920s, which are some of her best known works.
Early in her career,
In the 1930s, Brooks began writing an autobiographical manuscript titled No Pleasant Memories, and created a number of imaginative line drawings as illustrations. The book was never published, and Brooks all but abandoned her art career by the late 1930s.
Brooks’ exploration of gender and sexuality in many of her portraits led to renewed interest in her work in the 1980s, and her powerful images are still compelling to audiences today. This exhibition (17.06.2016 - 10.10.2016) brings together 50 paintings and drawings from the museum’s permanent collection. Toward the end of her life, Brooks made several generous donations of paintings and drawings to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Because she was independently wealthy and did not depend on her art for income, some of her most important paintings were still in her possession. Several of these paintings and the drawings have not been seen for decades and are included in this exhibition. (Text: Smithsonian America Art Museum)