Will the Real Janet Sobel Please Stand Up?


David Porter, at his gallery in Washington, D.C.Levin’s note 48 Sobel sent Milky Way to the exhibition, which took place in early 1945.”22 My own search of David Porter’s publications turned up the reference listing Porter as the compiler of Personal Statement, Painting Prophecy, 1950.23 Porter tells us that the personal statements in this publication were “written by a group of artists whose paintings had been invited to an exhibition entitled ‘A painting prophecy—1950’ first shown in February, 1945, at The David Porter Gallery on G Place in Washington, D.C.”24 Porter goes on to write that “the purpose of this exhibition is to suggest the existence of an active group of artists in this country who, unconscious of one another’s contribution, may be forming a new set of painting ideologies and a new school of art, for which the war has been the catalytic agent. The exhibition also may be considered a prophecy of a widespread understanding of this new kind of painting five years hence.”25

                Levin also writes, in her WAJ article, that several months after Sobel sent Milky Way to A Painting Prophecy—1950, on February 22, 1945,26 “Porter wrote to Sobel while the show was on to indicate that her work was ‘bringing forth some interesting comments,’”27 and “invited her to send work for another exhibition, ‘The Women.’”28 Levin states that Porter, in a telephone conversation with her on December 10, 2003, confirmed that the show called The Women “actually did take place at his Washington, D.C. gallery in June 1945. Its earlier venues were Western College, Oxford, Ohio (March 1945) and Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Va. (May 1945).”29 Levin, however, does not tell us whether Porter told her that Sobel’s work was shown in his gallery’s version of The Women.

               Siobhán M. Conaty offers a somewhat different view of how The Women originated.30 In her catalog essay to the 1997–98 exhibition Art of This Century: The Women that she had guest curated, Conaty writes that the 1943 Exhibition by 31 Women at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery,31 “paved the way for a second show in 1945 simply called ‘The Women,’ which Peggy Guggenheim organized herself.”32 Gail Levin contradicts Conaty’s statement that Guggenheim



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All texts copyright © Libby Seaberg, 2009