Powerful Images of Women Championing Freedom from Two Decades of Art by Bonnie Lautenberg
The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU kicks off Art Basel Season in Miami Beach with the premiere of the new exhibition Lady Liberty: A Bonnie Lautenberg Retrospective (opens November 16th through March 26th).
The new solo museum show celebrates powerful images of women from two decades of art by Lautenberg. Spanning her multiple series of photography and conceptual art, the women in these works are admired by Lautenberg for their spirit of freedom.
The exhibition includes her portrayals of the Statue of Liberty confronting some of today’s most challenging issues.
In response to the recent Supreme Court vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Lautenberg created Tears of Roe – a large-scale lightbox with tears running down the Statue of Liberty’s cheeks and the word Roe added to her crown, lamenting the current challenges to women’s freedoms making headlines today.
Bonnie Lautenberg is an artist, photographer and writer based in New York and Palm Beach. Her works have been featured in gallery shows, museums and art fairs throughout the country.
“I am so honored to be selected by the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU during Miami Art Week and Art Basel Miami Beach, especially at this time when women’s issues are at the forefront,” says Bonnie Lautenberg.
One of her Lady Liberty works is currently on view at the New York Historical Society Museum’s Center for the Study of American Culture, in an exhibition about how New York artists found original ways to express their appreciation for health care workers during the pandemic.
Another new work by Lautenberg is titled Wanted, honoring the historical icon Harriet Tubman who bravely led enslaved Black people to freedom in the 1800s without ever getting caught.
This diptych features one of the notorious “Wanted” posters from that era that slave owners used in the 1800s to try to capture Tubman. Lautenberg juxtaposes historic images of the American abolitionist next to actress Cynthia Erivo who portrayed the freedom fighter in the 2019 film Harriet. In her later years, Tubman was an activist in the movement for women’s suffrage.
Tears of Roe
The artist created a new work titled Tears of Roe especially for this new solo museum exhibition during Art Basel Miami Beach. The artwork is capturing attention nationwide. “I hope that grandmothers, mothers, daughters and granddaughters look upon Tears of Roe as a reminder of the freedom of choice women had for 50 years,” adds Lautenberg.
The new exhibition Lady Liberty: A Bonnie Lautenberg Retrospective features more than 30 works by Lautenberg, is curated by Jacqueline Goldstein and premieres new works that will be exhibited for the first time, created especially for this museum show.
“Our museum is thrilled to premiere this retrospective of Bonnie Lautenberg’s images of women shining a light on liberty,” says Susan Gladstone Pasternack, the Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. “In capturing the independent spark of these women through her art, Bonnie Lautenberg reminds us we should never take our freedoms for granted.”
The Museum is located in South Beach at 301 Washington Avenue, in the historic Art Deco District and is the State of Florida’s official museum dedicated to telling the story of more than 250 years of Florida Jewish history, arts and culture.
Left-to-right, from Lautenberg’s Brief Encounters series: This is the Coolest Lady I saw in Italy! (2013 – Rome); I Was Jealous of Her Thin Arms (2014 – California); There She Was, Miss America on 23rd Street (2011 – New York City); Laughing After Eating Beetle Nuts (2007 – Vietnam); Archival giclee prints (each work is 3 ft. x 2 ft.)
Art Meets Hollywood
In her Art Meets Hollywood series of digital collages, Lautenberg recognizes femme fatales for breaking through barriers in male-dominated times.
In each diptych, Lautenberg pairs scenes from their famous films with iconic works of art that were created in the same year as each movie.
The artist channels the creative zeitgeist these women might have inspired between filmmakers and visual artists during each year she intuitively chronicles.
To Lautenberg, these stars inspired our popular culture with their own singular nods to freedom, including: Barbra Streisand, Viola Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Octavia Spencer, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Olivia Newton-John, and more.
The museum retrospective also includes Lautenberg’s concert photos of Lady Gaga, Andra Day, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry from her series Pop Rocks, alongside images from her other series of works she photographed in New York, Miami, Washington, Italy, California, and Asia.
“The radiance of each of these women in Lautenberg’s works stands out at this moment, as the type of luminosity that can help get us through difficult times,” says Jacqueline Goldstein, the Curator of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. “When viewed together as a group of works, their intensity multiplies.”
Artistic Projects Brimming at the National Level
Lautenberg is an esteemed artist, producer, writer and photographer with multiple projects currently brimming at the national level.
With her partner Steve Leber, Lautenberg is co-producing a new Broadway musical about the life of Andy Warhol, approved by the Warhol Foundation.
Slated to debut in London next year before coming to the U.S., the new musical will be directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, with book by Rupert Holmes.
She is the widow of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, one of Washington’s longest-serving Senators (from 1982 to 2001, then again from 2003 until his death in 2013).
Her series of portraits How They Changed Our Lives: Senators As Working People is in the Library of Congress online in perpetuity, and was exhibited at Mana Contemporary in New Jersey.
She has been described as “having enough Washington insider stories to fill a book” (her new book will be released by Rutgers University Press next year, about the life of her late husband Senator Frank Lautenberg, including her photography).
In 2022, Lautenberg was appointed by the White House to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts (PACA) which sustains and guides the Kennedy Center, the National Cultural Center of the United States.
Lautenberg’s work is in several private and museum collections, including the permanent collections of: The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture; the Boca Raton Museum of Art; the Collection of Norman and Irma Braman; New York Historical Society Museum; the Broad Museum in Los Angeles; The Newark Museum of Art; Portland Museum of Art; and Stillman College Art Gallery in Alabama, among others.
Lautenberg’s work has been shown at galleries, art fairs and venue across the country: the Jean Albano Gallery in Chicago; the 92nd Street Y in New York; Monika Olko Gallery in Sag Harbor; Sponder Gallery; the Art Miami fair during Art Basel Miami Beach; the Palm Beach Modern and Contemporary fair; C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich; Vertu Fine Art; the Turkish Embassy at the United Nations; the U.S. Embassies in Madrid and Berlin; Art Market Hamptons; The White Room Gallery in Bridgehampton, NY; and Art Southampton fair.
Her work was featured in the recent gallery show at David Benrimon Fine Art in New York, titled Rethinking America, alongside works by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Longo, Kass, and Ed Ruscha.
About the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU
The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU is the State of Florida’s official museum dedicated to telling the story of more than 250 years of Florida Jewish history, arts and culture.
The Museum is housed in two restored historic buildings that were once synagogues for Miami Beach’s first Jewish congregation. The original synagogue was built in 1929, and the second, built in 1936, was designed by Art Deco architect Henry Hohauser.
While reflective of the Jewish experience spanning more than two centuries throughout the entire State of Florida, the Museum creates understanding of the shared immigrant experience in our multicultural society.
Using the lens of the evolving immigration experience of Jews in Florida, the Museum serves as a forum to promote tolerance, further global understanding and create connections to Jewish culture, history, arts and contemporary civic life for diverse audiences.
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Museum has a growing collection of more than 100,000 items and has achieved a standard of excellence in its methodology for research, collecting, conservation, archiving, storing and interpreting its holdings.
Exhibitions and programs at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU are made possible with support from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council; the Miami-Dade Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; The Miami Foundation; the Miami-Dade County Department of Public Housing and Community Development; the City of Miami Beach Department of Tourism and Cultural Development, City of Miami Beach Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Miami Beach Mayor and City Commissioners; the State of Florida Department of State; the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs; the Florida Council of Arts & Culture; Southern Jewish Historical Society; the Applebaum Foundation; and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.