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Exhibition Spotlight—Rosalyn Drexler: Who Does She Think She Is?

October 25, 2016

Installation view of Rosalyn Drexler: Who Does She Think She Is? Photograph by Brenda Bieger.

Celebrating her unique spirit and unsparing vision, Rosalyn Drexler: Who Does She Think She Is? presents Drexler as both a sharp critic of and a joyful participant in American culture of the past 50 years.

Born in 1926 to a Russian immigrant family in the Bronx, she grew up during the Depression raised on vaudeville and the movies, with little access to art. Her parents hoped she would make it in Hollywood. Instead, she married painter Sherman Drexler at the age of 19 and spent the next decade as a mother and housewife seeking outlets for her own creativity, including a brief stint as a female wrestler in the early 1950s and a prolific career as an author, writing experimental novels, award-wining scripts for television, and, under a pseudonym, pulp fiction.

Stealing moments to write during her daughter’s naps and assembling sculpture in her living room, Drexler discovered her own voice as well as New York’s burgeoning art and literary worlds. Her work resonates with the cool Pop art of the 1960s, yet addresses sexual politics with unique frankness. Along with the central themes of love and violence, she explores midcentury masculinity and her often-flamboyant self-identity as a woman, writer, and artist. As Drexler has said of her multifaceted career, “I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what I should be, or that I should only be one thing.”