In October of 2017 WAM unveiled the newly created, commissioned work by artist Beth Lipman, One Portrait of One Man. Known for her large-scale, sculptural installation based on the seventeenth-century tradition of still life painting, Lipman worked, at WAM’s invitation, with the museum’s celebrated collection of art by the early twentieth-century American modernist Marsden Hartley. After extensive review and research in the collection, the artist selected Hartley’s homage to his friend and patron, the expatriate American literary luminary Gertrude Stein, One Portrait of One Woman as the core of her new piece. Building a glass vanity where Hartley’s portrait of Stein takes the place of the mirror, Lipman fills the cabinet with salient, oft-repeated, and reworked details that span Hartley’s long and peripatetic career.
Exploring material culture through still life and memorials, Lipman’s largescale hand-sculpted glass compositions are portraits of individuals and our society through inanimate objects. Every object created, whether broken, “flawed,” or “perfect,” is incorporated into the final composition, literally capturing a moment in time. The process of creating defines the final composition; mimesis is abandoned. Mortality, consumerism, materiality, and temporality, critical issues since the inception of the still life tradition in the seventeenth century, continue to be relevant today and animate Lipman’s portrait of Hartley.
Lipman lives in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin and has received numerous awards, including a USA Berman Bloch Fellowship, Pollock-Krasner Grant, Virginia Groot Foundation Grant, and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant. Most recently, she completed Secretary with Chipmunk, a multipurpose sculpture for the Chipstone Foundation in Wisconsin.