Pietro da Cortona, “Hagar and the Angel” (ca. 1643), bequest of John Ringling, 1936

Courageous heroines and deceptive femmes fatales abound in the Old and New Testaments. From Judith to Esther, Salome to Mary Magdalene, Delilah to Lot’s Daughters and Potiphar’s wife, these women — perceived as dangerous to society — shaped biblical history. The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU presents the world premiere of Dangerous Women: Selections from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art the timely new exhibition that explores shifting perceptions of these historic characters, whose power to topple the strongest of male rulers made them “dangerous” but whose strength serves as an historical foundation for thinking about contemporary causes (including the “Me Too” movement).

While some were portrayed as saving their people, paragons of family goodness and repenting their sins for lives of virtue, others were portrayed as harlots and hussies, purveyors of sin, deadly temptresses and seductresses. Featuring spectacular and thought-provoking Old Master paintings from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the exhibition showcases more than twenty paintings and etchings of women found in the Bible masterfully rendered by 16th and 17-century artists, including: Pietro da Cortona, Fede Galizia, Pordenone, Giovanni Andrea Sirani and Francesco del Cairo, concluding with modern and contemporary works, including the sensuous “Salome” (1901) by Robert Henri, and “Portrait of Mamma Bush” (2010) by Mickalene Thomas.

Dangerous Women demonstrates how throughout history men have feared women who wield power through their intellect and sexuality,” said Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, the Director of the Frost Art Museum FIU. “This timely new exhibition of old-master paintings demonstrates how powerful women were feared, even when their acts were heroic. As the director of the museum in Miami that distinguishes itself by presenting works that span all historical periods, I want our public to appreciate the narrative of women who are either victims of sexual violence or dominate powerful men, which feels utterly relevant to conversations trending right now. As remote as some of these works may initially appear, art history provides a lens with which to see shifting perceptions about women over centuries,” adds Pomeroy.

Dangerous Women is a partnership between the Ringling Museum of Art (Florida State University), the Frost Art Museum FIU and the Cornell Museum (Rollins College).

Dangerous Women continues at the Frost Art Museum FIU (10975 SW 17th St, Miami, Florida) through May 20, 2018.

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