Virginia Jaramillo’s first retrospective brings overdue attention to the artist’s practice, spanning nearly 60 years.

Virginia Jaramillo in front of Quanta, 2022. Courtesy Virginia Jaramillo and Hales, London and New York. Photo by JSP Art Photography.

“Virginia Jaramillo: Principle of Equivalence” provides a comprehensive look at the artist’s career from 1964–2021.

This summer, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art will present “Virginia Jaramillo: Principle of Equivalence,” the first retrospective exhibition by New York-based artist Virginia Jaramillo (Mexican American, born 1939). The exhibition debuts in Kansas City, MO where it will be on view at Kemper Museum from Jun. 2–Aug. 27, 2023 before traveling nationally.

Jaramillo has been at the heart of influential movements in American post-war abstraction for decades. She was born in El Paso, TX, raised in Los Angeles, CA, and moved to New York City in 1966 after a year in Paris. When she settled in Soho at 109 Spring Street in the late-1960s, Jaramillo’s neighbors were artists Frederick James Brown, Mark di Suvero, Donald Judd, and Joan Semmel, alongside other influential New York artists, musicians, and writers. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, she participated in artist organizations and groups including the New York Feminist Art Institute and the 120 Wooster Street Collective. During this period, her work was included in group exhibitions at institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, CA; and the California Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles, CA, among others. Notable examples include “The De Luxe Show” in 1971 in Houston, TX (considered the first racially integrated exhibition in the U.S. to gain national attention) and “Women Artists of the 80’s,” in 1984 at A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY.

The significance of Jaramillo’s work has been affirmed in recent groundbreaking group exhibitions including “Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980” (Hammer Museum, 2011); “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” (Brooklyn Museum, 2017); and “Women in Abstraction” (Centre Pompidou, 2021); yet there has not been a comprehensive presentation of the 84-year-old artist’s practice and impact before “Principle of Equivalence.”

Throughout her career, Jaramillo has explored earthly and metaphysical realms through abstract paintings and handmade paper works with such diverse interests as physics, the cosmos, mythology, ancient cultures, and modernist design philosophies. This exhibition presents more than 70 exceptional paintings and handmade paper works, including her breakthrough “Curvilinear” series and large-scale linen fiber work, “Anonymous Site #1-603” (1990) from Kemper Museum’s Permanent Collection.

“This exhibition is a milestone in the artist’s career and serves as a reminder to look with intention toward those who have made important—if historically excluded—contributions to the history of American abstraction,” said Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs for Kemper Museum. “Tracing the impact of Jaramillo’s practice, the exhibition will feature early examples that pushed the depth of the painted surface to its very limits, innovations in the centuries-old practice of handmade papermaking, and recent large-scale paintings in which Jaramillo abstracts the architectural ruins of spiritual sites.”

Jaramillo’s exhibition history in Kansas City stretches back to the 1970s with Douglas Drake Gallery. Her work is included in local institutional collections including at Kemper Museum, the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, the Daum Museum, and the Hallmark Collection.

“Virginia Jaramillo: Principle of Equivalence” is organized by Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri and curated by Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs. A full-color catalogue in conjunction with this exhibition will be distributed by Yale University Press.

Major support for “Virginia Jaramillo: Principle of Equivalence” is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

Leave a Reply