Hannah Wilke Biography
Temple University, Stella Elkins Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA,
Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Science in Education, 1962
C.A.P.S., grant for sculpture, 1973
National Endowment for the Arts, sculpture grant, 1976; matching grant for sculpture with Ohio University, Athens, OH, 1979; grant for performance, 1980
Alaska Council for the Arts and University of Alaska, matching
grant for sculpture, 1980
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, sculpture grant, 1982
Pollock-Krasner Foundation, grants for art, 1987, 1992
School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, 1974-1992
Hannah Wilke (1940-1993), the pioneering feminist conceptual artist, worked
in sculpture, drawing, assemblage, photography, performance and installation. Innovative and controversial throughout her
life, Wilke is considered the first feminist artist to use vaginal imagery in her work, and her place in 20th century
art continues to be established since her death.
Hannah Wilke, the second child of Selma and Emanuel Butter, was
born Arlene Hannah Butter in New York City on March 7, 1940. She and her sister Marsha (Marsie Scharlatt) attended public
school in Queens, and Arlene (later Hannah) graduated from Great Neck High School in 1957. Wilke studied art at Stella Elkins Tyler School of Fine Art, Temple University,
Philadelphia, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1962.
Throughout her career Wilke taught art, gave workshops as a visiting
artist, participated in panels and conferences about womens' art, and lectured extensively. From 1962 to 1965, Wilke taught art at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting,
PA, and, from 1965 to 1970, at White Plains High School, White Plains, NY. In
1972, Wilke joined the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan where she founded the ceramics department
and taught sculpture and ceramics until 1991. An early resident of Soho, Wilke was one of the first New York artists
to create studio loft space there in a formerly industrial building.
Wilke's work was widely exhibited, beginning in the 1960's. In 1961,
her woodcuts were shown in the "Annual Graphics Show" at the Philadelphia Print Club. She first exhibited in New York
in 1966 in the "3-D Group Show" at Castagno Gallery and her signature vaginal sculptures in terra cotta were shown in
1967 in "Hetero Is, Erotic Is" at Nycata, New York.
Wilke's early ceramic sculptures were exhibited in 1971 at the Richard
Feigen Gallery, New York, in two group shows: "Americans" and "10
Painters and 1 Sculptor." Hannah Wilke was the sculptor. In
1972, her work was included in "American Women Artists" at the Kunsthaus, Berlin, and in Documenta V, Kassel, W. Germany.
Wilke had her first one-woman gallery exhibitions in 1972 at Ronald
Feldman Fine Arts, New York, and Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles. In 1973, she received a C.A.P.S. grant for sculpture
and her latex wall piece, "In Memory of My Feelings," was included in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum
of American Art, New York. That year her work was also shown in "Recent Painting and Sculpture," Lo Giudice Gallery,
New York: "Options, 73-30," Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; and "Women Choose Women," New York Cultural Center. One-woman
shows of drawings, collage, ceramics, and kneaded eraser and latex sculpture followed at Margo Leavin in 1974, 1975,
and 1976 and at Ronald Feldman in 1974 and 1975, when Wilke exhibited her photographic work.
In 1975, Wilke showed in Paris at Galerie Gerald Piltzer in
"5 American Women in Paris." "Hannah Wilke: Scarification Photographs
and Videotapes," Wilke's first one-woman exhibition in a public institution, was held in 1976 at the Fine Arts Gallery,
University of California, Irvine, and that year she received a grant for sculpture from the National Endowment for the
Arts. One-woman exhibitions followed at Marianne Deson Gallery, Chicago, 1977; P.S. 1, New York, 1978; and
Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, D.C., 1979.
Throughout the 1970's, Wilke continued to exhibit her work in group
shows, and in 1974 she was invited to participate in the feminist publications "Anonymous Was a Woman"
and "Art: A Woman's Sensibility," of the Feminist Art Program, Cal Arts. That year she also showed in "Sculpture," ICA,
Boston, and in the "19th Print Exhibition" at The Brooklyn Museum. In 1975, Wilke showed in "Artists Make
Toys," The Clocktower, New York; "The Year of the Woman," Bronx Museum of the Arts; and "Small Scale Sculpture," Art
Institute of Chicago. In 1976, her work was shown in "Soho-Downtown Manhattan," at the Berlin Festival and the Louisiana Museum,
Copenhagen. Hannah Wilke showed work in two 1977 exhibitions at The Woman's Building, Los Angeles: "What
is Feminist Art" and "Contemporary Issues," a show sponsored by the Women's Caucus for Art. In 1978, she showed
in "13 Galleries," High Museum, Atlanta; "Feministische Kunst Internationale," De Appel, Amsterdam; and in "The Sense of Self,"
an ICI traveling exhibition, 1978-80. In 1979, she exhibited work in "Photography as Art, 1879-1979, Art as Photography,"
1949-79; " Museum de XX Jahrhunderts, Vienna; "Images of the Self," Hampstead College Art Gallery, Amherst. MA; and "Artists'
Boxes," Sunne Savage Gallery, Boston. In 1979, Wilke received matching grants for sculpture from the National Endowment for
the Arts and Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, where, as a visiting artist, she created her signature vaginal sculptures
During the 1970's, Wilke began doing performance art, much of which she
made into photographic and video work. In 1974, she performed "Gestures" for videotape and "Hannah Wilke Super-t-Art" live in
"Soup and Tart" at the Kitchen, New York. In 1975, she created an S.O.S. performance at Galerie Gerald Piltzer,
Paris, and was videotaped in the performance, "Hello Boys." In 1976, in "Lives," a show New York, and at UC Irvine,
she exhibited "Intercourse with...," a text and audio installation of her answering machine messages which she
had been recording for several years. That year, Wilke also created "My Country-'tis of Thee," a performance
and installation at the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY. In 1977,
her live performance, "Intercourse with...," was videotaped at the
London Art Gallery, London, Ontario, and she performed "Hannah Wilke Through the Large Glass" in front of Duchamp's "Large
Glass" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where she also created the documentary film, "Philly." In 1979, Wilke
performed the first of several performances of "So Help Me Hannah," and she exhibited "So Help Me Hannah- Snatch
Shots with Ray Guns," at P.S. 1 in Queens, New York.
In 1980, Wilke received an NEA grant for performance and matching grants
for sculpture from Alaska Council for the Arts and the University of Alaska. That year she exhibited work in "A Decade
of Women's Performance," an exhibition at the College Art Association, New Orleans, and in "Androgyny,"
Studio Amazone, Amsterdam, and she was included in "American Women Artists," Museo de Art Contemporani, Sao
Paulo, Brazil. In 1982, Wilke showed in "Androgyny and Art," Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra College, and she received the
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in Sculpture.
During the 1980's, Wilke exhibited her work in two solo shows at Ronald
Feldman Fine Arts, notably, in 1984, "Support, Foundation, Comfort," an exhibition in memory of her mother, Selma Butter. That
year, she also had a solo exhibition at Joseph Gross Gallery, University of Arizona, Tuscon, and she was a included in
the group exhibitions "Art & Ideology," The New Museum, New York, and "American Women Artists," Sidney Janis
Gallery, New York. In 1988, her work was included in "Modes of Address: Language in Art Since 1960" at the
Whitney Museum, downtown, New York, and in "Marcel Duchamp and the Avant-Garde Since 1950," at Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany.
In 1989, her work was exhibited in "Women Making Their Mark" at the Cincinnatti Art Museum.
Hannah Wilke was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1987 and underwent extensive
treatment including a bone marrow transplant. Her first major retrospective exhibition, "Hannah Wilke: A Retrospective"
was held at Gallery 210, University of Missouri, St. Louis, in 1989. Another solo exhibition was held at Genovese Gallery,
Boston, in 1990. She received Pollock-Krasner Grants for Art in 1987 and 1992, and exhibited in group exhibitions such
as "Artists of Conscience." Alternative Museum, New York, 1991, and "Not for Sale," Tel Aviv Museum, Israel, 1992. During the last years of her life, Wilke continued to make art: "B.C.," a series of
watercolor self-portraits; "Brushstrokes," drawings made from her own hair as it fell out during chemotherapy; and "IntraVenus"
hand and face drawings, photographs and videotapes. She died on January, 28, 1993.
"IntraVenus," the group of monumental photographs documenting her final
illness and treatment was exhibited posthumously at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in 1994 and traveled to Yerba Buena Arts
Center, San Francisco; Santa Monica Museum; Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Greensboro, NC; Woodruff Gallery, Atlanta, GA;
Nikolai Contemporary Art Center, Copenhagen; and the Tokyo Museum of Photography. "Intra Venus" received First Place
Award in 1994 and 1996 for best show in an art gallery from the International Association of Art Critics (U.S.Section).
Since her death, work from Hannah Wilke's estate was exhibited
nationally and internationally. Group exhibitions include "Abject Art," the Whitney Museum, 1993; "Outside the Frame,"
Cleveland Center for the Arts, and "Power, Pleasure, Pain," Fogg Art Museum, Boston, 1994; "Masculin/feminin,"
Centre Pompidou, Paris, and "Action/Performance and the Photograph," Allen Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio, 1995; and, in 1996, "Too
Jewish?" the Jewish Museum, New York, "More than Minimal," Rose Art Museum, Boston, and "Sexual Politics," Hammer Museum,
Los Angeles. In 1998, Wilke's work was included in "Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object" at the Museum of Contemporary
Art, Los Angeles.
"Hannah Wilke: Works from 1965-92," a posthumous one-woman exhibition was
held at Gallery 400, University of Illinois, Chicago, in 1996. "Hannah Wilke," a posthumous retrospective of Wilke's
work was shown at the Nikolai Art Center, Copenhagen, in 1998, and traveled to Bildmuseum, Umea, Sweden and Helsinki
City Art Museum. "Interrupted Career," a one-woman survey, was held at Neue Gesellschaft fur Bildende Kunst, Berlin, in 2000.
The Hannah Wilke Collection & Archive, Los Angeles, was created
in 1999 by Marsie Scharlatt and her family following the distribution of Wilke's estate. Since then, several solo
exhibitions of work in the collection were mounted including "Hannah Wilke: Selected Work:1960-92," in 2004, and "Advertisements
for Living," in 2006, both at SolwayJones, Los Angeles. In 2005,
"The Rhetoric of the Pose," a survey of Wilke work in HWCALA, was mounted at the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery at UC Santa Cruz
in conjuction with a conference sponsored by the Center for Advanced Feminist Studies. In 2008, "Hannah Wilke: Gestures,"
a survey of Wilke's sculpture and related work was shown at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University
of New York. In 2010, Alison Jacques Gallery, London, mounted the exhibition, "Hannah Wilke: Elective Affinities."
Work in HWCALA is being shown in national and international group exhibitions,
and, in 2007, was included in WACK!, a traveling survey of feminist art that originated at the Museum of Contemporary
Art, Los Angeles. In 2009, Wilke work that was acquired from HWCALA
was featured in the exhibition "Women Artists: elles @ centrepompidou," work by women artists in the permanent
collection of the Centre Pompidou, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris.