Angry Gertrude

Louise Fishman (born 1939)
Acrylic on paper, 1973
Courtesy of the artist and Cheim & Read, New York
© Louise Fishman
Photo courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

This painting is one of a series dedicated to thirty rebellious women who shaped Louise Fishman’s political consciousness and artistic practice. Fishman says she portrayed her personal deities abstractly, with names instead of faces, because of the Jewish interdiction against representing the face of God, the human face, or the body. Moreover, when Fishman began this series, her lesbian feminist artistic circle included primarily writers: the pathbreaking anthropologist Esther Newton, the art critic Jill Johnston, and the author Bertha Harris. “Everybody kept journals. A record of all their experience, and I was very jealous. I kept sketchbooks. But I loved the idea of the written word.” With feminist deliberation, the artist identified each of her subjects, including Gertrude, by first name, omitting the patronymic.