Lil Picard

(American, born in Germany, 1899–1994)

Lady Woolworth

, 1963
Assemblage on cardboard, 24 x 18 in.
Lil Picard Collection, 2012.462

Visit the interactive exhibition website

"The situation of a woman as a painter in New York (at my age) is not easy to handle. The Cedar Bar and the Club are run by cliques and only young and pretty girls are wanted around, it’s a rat race and a racket of the worst sort."
          – Diary entry, April 23, 1960, Lil Picard Papers, Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries

Fortunately for Picard, by 1960 the impact of The New York School, The Cedar Bar, and The Club waned, and a new generation of artists and poets began to converge on the downtown scene. Initially reacting to the repression of the McCarthy years, young artists and audiences joined in performance events, or “Happenings” whose subjects were often critiques of societal and cultural mores, such as the perceived manipulation of women by the beauty industry.

In the late 1950s Picard began to incorporate commercial cosmetics and beauty wares into her assemblages. Single and double female figures are comprised almost entirely of such manufactured objects as costume jewelry, curlers, hair pins, brushes, emery boards, rouge, and lipsticks—many with the tops off so that the oily lipstick itself is bared. The basic compositions are recognizable as figures and the cosmetic objects are placed with messy gobs of paint and found string, fabric, shiny collaged papers, parts of product advertisements, even plastic army men.