Unidentified photographer, University of Iowa printmaking studios, 1947. Pictured from left to right: Malcolm Myers, Virginia Banks, Paul Brach, Houston Chandler, Miriam Schapiro (seated). Miriam Schapiro Papers, Rutgers University Archives, New Brunswick, N.J.
Miriam Schapiro, The Last Judgment, 1950. Aquatint with etching and soft ground, plate: 16 5/16 x 19 7/8 in. (41.4 x 50.5 cm). Saint Louis Art Museum. Gift of Henry V. Putzel (228:1950). © 2019 Estate of Miriam Schapiro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

82. Miriam Schapiro

Life Dates1923-2015
Place of BirthToronto, Canada
Place of DeathHampton Bays, NY, USA
Birth NameMiriam Schapiro

Influential feminist artist Miriam Schapiro had early and important engagement with midcentury printmaking. Born in Toronto, Canada, but raised in Brooklyn, New York, she enrolled in 1943 in the art program at Hunter College and transferred after one year to the University of Iowa, where she earned several degrees (BA, 1945; MA, 1946; and MFA, 1949). Toward the end of her time at Iowa, Schapiro held an assistantship with Mauricio Lasansky, the Argentinean-born Atelier 17 alumnus who established Iowa’s printmaking program, and she helped to organize the Iowa Print Group. She actively entered her prints—mostly intaglio with a few woodcuts—into group shows during the late 1940s, exhibiting in the first, third, and fifth Brooklyn Museum print annuals, along with annuals in several other American cities. Prints also factored prominently in her first solo exhibition at Illinois Wesleyan University in 1951.1 When Schapiro and her husband, the artist Paul Brach, moved to New York in 1951, she briefly worked at Atelier 17.2 The apartment Brach and Schapiro rented at 51 West Tenth Street was only a short walk away from Atelier 17’s location on East Eighth Street. Interestingly, not much has been published about Schapiro’s early activity in printmaking, despite the fact that it clearly allowed her to build a network of similarly independent-minded women artists. She also continued to make prints throughout her career, including the beautiful Anonymous Was a Woman portfolio.3

Archives

Miriam Schapiro Papers, Rutgers University Archives, New Brunswick, N.J.

Selected Bibliography

“Art Exhibit Opens Sunday at Wesleyan.” The Pantagraph. March 4, 1951.

Derrickson, Howard. “Art and Artists: Museum’s New Prize Print.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 1, 1950.

Gouma-Peterson, Thalia, ed. Miriam Schapiro, A Retrospective, 1953-1980. Wooster, Ohio: The College of Wooster, 1980.

———. Miriam Schapiro: Shaping the Fragments of Art and Life. New York: Harry N. Abrams, in association with the Polk Museum of Art, 1999.

Yassin, Robert A. Miriam Schapiro: Works on Paper, a Thirty Year Retrospective. Edited by Paul Brach. Tucson: Tucson Museum of Art, 1998.

Notes


  1. See group show chronology in Thalia Gouma-Peterson, Miriam Schapiro: Shaping the Fragments of Art and Life (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999), 157. Notice of her solo exhibition can be found in “Art Exhibit Opens Sunday at Wesleyan,” Pantagraph, March 4, 1951, 6. Judy Brodsky, Schapiro’s friend and estate’s executor, shared images of early prints from the artist’s studio, email to Christina Weyl, June 1 and 2, 2017.
  2. Rachel Rosenthal remembered meeting Schapiro at Atelier 17. Rachel Rosenthal, oral history by Moira Roth, September 2, 1989, AAA/SI. The timing of Schapiro/Brach’s move to New York is given as either 1951 or 1952. The couple most likely moved in fall 1951, after Brach’s teaching appointment ended at the University of Missouri–Columbia. Complicating the timeline, however, a review of Schapiro’s solo exhibition at Illinois Wesleyan stated she had “studied printmaking under Mauricio Lasansky. Later, she continued study in this field in New York City under Stanley Hayter at his Atelier 17”; “Art Exhibit Opens Sunday at Wesleyan,” 6. Given that Schapiro had family in New York, it is possible she set out to New York before Brach.
  3. Robert A. Yassin, Miriam Schapiro: Works on Paper, a Thirty Year Retrospective, ed. Paul Brach (Tucson: Tucson Museum of Art, 1998).