B. BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, 1924
D. WASHINGTON, D.C., 2000
Shirley Gorelick (1924-2000) is known for her humanist paintings of subjects who have traditionally not been heroized in large-scale portraiture. She painted middle-aged couples, including a bi-racial couple, two psychoanalysts, and a differently-abled woman with her husband. She also re-examined art historical works through a contemporary female gaze, casting the Three Graces as three African-American men, for example.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Gorelick studied art as a young person with Chaim Gross, Moses Soyer, and Raphael Soyer. She received her BA from Brooklyn College, where she studied with Serge Chermayeff. After receiving her MA at Teachers College, she briefly attended the Hans Hofmann School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Gorelick’s early work was figurative, but stylistically influenced by the legacy of Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. In her growing desire to realize a psychological depiction of the subject, she shifted into a higher degree of realism. Gorelick worked on her large-scale acrylic paintings from a combination of direct observation and photography. She also made silverpoint drawings and intaglio prints.
In the context of the feminist movement, Gorelick became involved with artist-run, women’s cooperative galleries. In 1973, she became a founding member of Central Hall Artists Gallery, an all-women artist-run gallery in Port Washington, New York. Between 1975 and 1986, she had six solo exhibitions at SOHO20 and participated in numerous group shows. In 1976, Gorelick painted a nine-foot portrait of Frida Kahlo for “The Sister Chapel,” a feminist collaboration by thirteen artists which celebrated female role models and premiered its installation at P.S. 1 in Long Island City.