Jane Kaufman was earning minimalist paintings in the early 1970s, spraying automobile paint on large canvases. To be positive, the paint was sparkly, so the canvases shimmered — “lyrical abstraction” was how 1 reviewer explained her art and that of other people carrying out related do the job — but they were firmly of their reductive minimalist second. Hilton Kramer of The New York Occasions authorised, supplying Ms. Kaufman a nod as a “new abstractionist” in his primarily dismissive review of the Whitney Biennial in 1973.
Then Ms. Kaufman designed a sharp transform.
She started stitching and gluing her do the job, applying ornamental products like bugle beads, metallic thread and feathers, and using the embroidery and stitching expertise she experienced been taught by her Russian grandmother. By the conclude of the decade, she was earning very first luminescent screens and wall hangings, then intricate quilts centered on traditional American designs.
In celebrating the so-named women’s do the job of stitching and crafting, she was doing a radical act, thumbing her nose at the dominant artwork motion of the era.
Ms. Kaufman died on June 2 at her property in Andes, N.Y. She was 83. Her dying was verified by Abby Robinson, a mate.
Ms. Kaufman was not alone in her concentrate on the decorative. Artists like Joyce Kozloff and Miriam Schapiro had been motivated, as she was, by designs and motifs observed in North African mosaics, Persian textiles and Japanese kimonos, as perfectly as by homegrown domestic crafts like quilting and embroidery. It was feminist artwork, even though not all its practitioners were girls. (One of the extra prominent ones, Tony Robbin, is a man.)
The motion arrived to be identified as Sample and Decoration. Ms. Kaufman curated its initial team display in 1976, at the Alessandra Gallery on Broome Road in Lessen Manhattan, and termed it “Ten Techniques to the Decorative” (there ended up 10 artists). For the exhibition, she contributed tiny paintings she hung in pairs, densely striped with sparkly bugle beads.
“The paintings are tiny due to the fact they are not walls, they are for partitions,” Ms. Kaufman wrote in her artist’s statement.
Other galleries, like Holly Solomon in New York, started displaying the Pattern and Decoration artists’ work, and it also took off in Europe in advance of falling out of favor in the mid-1980s. Decades later on, curators would scoop up artists like Ms. Kaufman in a collection of retrospectives, starting off in 2008 at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, N.Y.
“It’s funky, funny, fussy, perverse, obsessive, riotous, accumulative, awkward, hypnotic,” Holland Cotter wrote in his assessment of that demonstrate in The Times. The Sample and Decoration movement, he wrote, was the very last authentic artwork movement of the 20th century, with “weight plenty of to provide down the wonderful Western Minimalist wall for a although and bring the rest of the entire world in.”
Ms. Kaufman was born on May well 26, 1938, in New York City. Her father, Herbert Kaufman, was an marketing executive with his individual agency her mother, Roslyn, was a homemaker. She gained a B.S. in art schooling from New York University in 1960 and an M.F.A. from Hunter Higher education. She taught at Bard University in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., in 1972, a single its initial feminine professors. “She was popular for telling her woman pupils, ‘You are all excellent and you are all going to end up at the Fulfilled,’” explained the arts writer Elizabeth Hess, a Bard graduate.
From 1983 to 1991, Ms. Kaufman was an adjunct instructor at the Cooper Union in New York. Her get the job done is in the long lasting collections of the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Artwork and the Smithsonian Institution. She was a Guggenheim fellow in 1974 and in 1989 obtained a grant from the Nationwide Endowment for the Arts. Her “Crystal Hanging,” a glittering sculpture that appears to be like a meteor shower, is in the Thomas P. O’Neill Federal Constructing in Boston.
In 1966 she married Doug Ohlson, an summary painter. The relationship ended in divorce in the early 1970s.
No fast family members endure.
Although Ms. Kaufman was particularly really serious about her function, she was also a prankster devoted to political activism for decades, a pink penis poster she developed was highlighted at marches for abortion rights and other women’s troubles. Its very last outing was at the Women’s March in New York Metropolis in January 2017.
She was a member of the Guerrilla Women, the art-globe agitators, all women, who protested the dearth of female and minority artists in galleries and museums by papering Manhattan buildings in the dead of night time with impish posters like “The Guerrilla Girls’ Code of Ethics for Artwork Museums,” which proclaimed, “Thou shalt present lavish funerals for Females and Artists of Coloration who thou planeth to show only following their Death” and “Thou shalt hold Curatorial Salaries so very low that Curators need to be Independently Rich, or keen to engage in Insider Trading.”
Membership was by invitation only, and most members’ names have been a top secret (they wore gorilla masks in community). Several Guerrilla Girls employed the names of useless feminine artists, like Käthe Kollwitz and Frida Kahlo. But Ms. Kaufman did not.
“Jane experienced a wicked perception of humor, the means to get appropriate to the centre of an difficulty and the courage and ideas to confront the powers that be,” the Guerrilla Woman who calls herself Frida Kahlo stated in a statement. “We will never ever overlook her. We hope that Jane is also remembered as a fantastic artist who tirelessly labored to break down the conventions of ‘craft vs good art’ and later on combined her meticulous handwork with biting political information.”
Ms. Kaufman’s later function, Ms. Hess said, was as political as her ornamental do the job experienced been, and dealt with religious and social divisions. But she was unable to discover a gallery that would demonstrate it. An embroidered piece from 2010 declared, in metallic thread on cutwork velvet, “Abstinence Can make the Church Expand Fondlers.”
“She was an artist who floated underneath the radar,” Ms. Hess said. “She was underacknowledged, though she experienced curated the initial Sample and Decoration display. Her perform arrived out of her desire in women’s labor, but I think the serious revelation to me about Jane’s get the job done was its sumptuousness and magnificence.”
In late 2019, a retrospective called “With Satisfaction: Sample and Decoration in American Artwork 1972 to 1985” opened at the Museum of Present-day Artwork in Los Angeles (it is now at Bard through Nov. 28). Anna Katz, the show’s curator, selected a multicolored velvet quilt by Ms. Kaufman for the exhibition. Motivated by standard outrageous-quilt styles, Ms. Kaufman experienced applied around 100 standard stitches, some courting again to the 16th century, in the piece, which she finished in 1985.
Ms. Katz reported the quilt was Ms. Kaufman’s “magnum opus, an acknowledgment of women’s position in art history” that “stands as a redress to the marginalization of ladies.” Quilting, she mentioned, is how ladies created artwork — frequently collectively and anonymously — for hundreds of years. And for generations, she explained, “quilts were a really developed form of summary art that preceded the so-identified as creation of abstraction in portray.”
“It was a danger for Jane to make decorative artwork,” Ms. Katz extra. “The phrase ‘decorative’ was a career killer. It nonetheless is. I imagine her frame of mind at the time was, this was not the boldest issue she could do it was the most necessary.”