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Art + Auction June 2013

Blouin Artinfo .com
Modern painters July/Aug. 2013

The Nature of Woman
The Mayor Gallery Ldt. 2013

How much does gender influence the art world?

An exhibition showcasing six female abstract artists poses questions about the real impact of gender on output and perception in the art world. Professor Griselda Pollock attends 'The Nature of Women' at The Mayor Gallery for Telegraph Wonder Women.
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Sylvia Heider Wall Sculptures

Jan E. Adlmann

The remarkable metal wall-reliefs of Sylvia Heider, to many viewers
readily recognizable as unique to her sensibilities are, like so many
ostensibly simple artistic creations, in fact the product of considerable
trial and error in the studio. Heider might well say, like Robert
Rauschenberg--whose assemblage technique she sometimes
echoes--that "you begin with the possibilities of the material, and
then you see what you can do." As Rauschenberg says, further, "the
artist is almost a bystander while he's working".

The simplest part of these complex structures is their initial fabrication,
from zinc-surfaced metal sheets, to which the artist
subsequently applies (usually abstract) pattern or ornament fashioned
from metal strips laid down on the surface with industrial

Heider may work with only one unit, mostly a square box shape,
which can stand alone. More often, however, she expands
the complexity of her compositions by joining several units together
in various vertical, horizontal or cross like configurations.

Once these primary objects are assembled, Heider's subtile and
complex processes actually begin with the painting of the surfaces
through a refined brush technique which entails more than simple

Once this surface proves satisfying to the artist, and it has thoroughly
dried, Heider next applies a film of acid, either sprayed or
laid on with a brush. This phase, also, is followed again by a substantial
drying period, during which the remarkably variegated color
effects she achives gradually develop.

According to her agile manipulation of the acid washes, the drying
times and other variables, the resultant works will bloom with
etheral colors ranging from dusky brown, to glowing orange, or to
a lustrous, gunmetal gray-blue. somewhere between the random
effects of the materials and the various strategies of control Heider
has laboriously devised, an evanescent sculpture materializes, as if
by magic.

As Rauschenberg has said, Heider is, ultimately--by virtue of the
happenstances of her methods--to a certain degree a "bystander"
at the act of creation. The paradox in her work is that, in the end,
they are as much the product of mysterious processes as they are
of the artist's conscious efforts. The poetry of her surfaces certainly
belies the hard-won expertise she has developed through working
in her chosen, "industrial" materials. What strikes the viewer, we
might say, is that her art only then appears when her materials are

                                             Santa Fe, New Mexico, Feb. 2009

Jan E. Adlmann is an art historian and former assistant director
of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.


S. Heider Monograph by Edition Art Libre 2009
ISBN: 978-3-901209-16-1