The estate of artist Vivian E. Browne is now represented by New York’s Ryan Lee Gallery, which has planned its first solo exhibition of the artist’s work for February 2019.
Next year’s Ryan Lee show will be the first Browne solo exhibition in nearly 20 years, and it will feature works she made in the 1960s and ’70s. The show will center around her first major body of work, “Little Men” (1966–70), a series of paintings depicting abstracted, infantilized white business men in various states of anger and frustration—they are shown sucking their thumbs, flailing their arms, and yelling.
Mary Ryan, one of Ryan Lee’s owners, told ARTnews, “We feel strongly committed to championing women and their contributions to art history, and we think Vivian’s work has a particular resonance to today’s ongoing conversations regarding feminism and race.”
The gallery also represents artists May Stevens and Emma Amos, who were in a feminist collective called Heresies with Browne that was active from 1977 to 1993, the year Browne died. That collective’s work has been featured in recent exhibitions such as the Brooklyn Museum’s “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965–85,” and Lee said that interest is growing for work by artists of that generation. “Vivian’s story is unfortunately a familiar one of being left outside the mainstream art world because she was a woman and because she was black,” Ryan said, adding that scholars and curators are finally beginning to turn their attention to these “groundbreaking artists of the 20th century.”