Joanna Beall Westermann, Old Virginie, 1965-1967

Free admission (all visitors, all hours)


Venus Over Manhattan is pleased to announce an exhibition of work by Joanna Beall Westermann, organized in collaboration with the late artist’s estate. It will be the first solo presentation for the artist in over two decades. A student of Josef Albers and Diego Rivera, Joanna Beall Westermann’s contributions were significant, yet somewhat obscured in her lifetime by her marriage to famed sculptor and printmaker H.C. Westermann. Venus Over Manhattan’s exhibition comprises a group of paintings, drawings, and collages that indicate the pioneering spirit of a quiet and compelling talent. Her works on display contain an original distillation of modernist, expressionist, and surrealist precedents, which Beall creatively reimagined in order to extract from the mundane that which is extraordinary.

Born in Chicago in 1935, Joanna Beall Westermann was predisposed to the arts from an early age, due in part to her father Lester Beall’s strong presence in the design world. In a catalogue essay from a 1998 solo exhibition, the young Joanna is described as a “prodigy” who eagerly undertook artistic and literary endeavors, supported by her father. As a student of Josef Albers while at Yale, Beall made significant contributions to Albers’ landmark study Interaction of Color. She would later spend eight months studying in Mexico with Diego Rivera. Beall left Yale to complete her degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she met artist H.C. Westermann. The pair later married in 1959, forming a partnership that shocked Beall’s upper-class family; at their insistence, the couple lived on the Beall estate for most of their marriage. The delicate coexistence of Beall, Westermann, and her family is a curiosity of the artist’s biography that provides important context for appreciating the complex depictions of domestic life in many of the works on display at Venus Over Manhattan.