Art History

Back to Blog September 18, 2013

Gerald Silk's essay, "In and Out of Shape: The Art of Reva Urban," appears in the Fall 2013 issue of Women's Art Journal

Author: Anonymous
Reva Urban, The Bridge Between (1967), mixed materials, 64½ x 67 x 4”. University of Pennsylvania Art Collection

This essay examines artist Reva Urban (1925–87), who despite success in the art world, is little known today. In 1964, she had a room devoted to her art at Documenta III and was only one of three North American women exhibiting there. Her most noteworthy work were idiosyncratically-shaped canvases done in the 1960s that grew out of her abstract expressionist pieces of the 50s. Reva (adopting this solo name as an artist) was also attuned to issues of gender and challenged stereotypes by employing this gestural style to co-opt its masculinist associations and harness its vitality, often applied to anatomical motifs that intermingled male muscularity and female sensuality.