The Sonya Rapoport Legacy Trust is excited to announce the publication of Sonya Rapoport: Yes or No? – a lavishly illustrated catalog for Yes or No? (2014-15) – an autobiographical series of collages created by Sonya Rapoport (1923 – 2015) during the last year of her life.
Sonya Rapoport (1923-2015) was a Berkeley-based conceptual artist whose career consistently defied stereotypes and expectations. Yes or No? is an autobiographical work created in the last year of Rapoport’s life. It is a series of twelve seductively complex collages, based on pages of the New York Times, that convey the parting observations of an artist who kept ahead of her time for more than six decades. Art historians Alla Efimova and Terri Cohn decipher and interpret this tour de force of visual philosophy to make it accessible to Rapoport’s viewers and readers. Writer and curator Marcia Tanner described the Yes or No? series as “offer(ing) an elegiac coda to Rapoport’s lifetime of art making.”
Rapoport was among the first women to receive an MA in Painting (UC Berkeley, 1949) and compete in the male-dominated field of Abstract Expressionism. In the 1960s she began challenging the domain of science by parodying its rigid conventions in performances and installations from a woman’s perspective. She was a pioneer among artists using emerging computer technologies in the 1980s and took a leadership role in the MIT Press journal Leonardo. Rapoport leaves an artistic legacy that includes works in many media, including paintings, works on paper, performance artifacts and documentation, sculptural objects, and digital works. She was the subject of two late-career retrospective exhibitions (2011, 2012) and the book Pairing of Polarities: The Life and Art of Sonya Rapoport, edited by Terri Cohn (Heyday, 2012).
Rapoport’s name is recognized nationally and internationally through her participation in over 50 major exhibitions, including the 2006 Whitney Biennial, “Violence without Bodies” in 2005 at the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, the 2002 Bienal de Arte in Buenos Aires, and Documenta 8 in 1987 in Kassel, Germany.
Yes or No? was first exhibited at Krowswork, a center for video and visionary art in Oakland, California, in 2015, in partnership with the Sonya Rapoport Legacy Trust, whose director, Farley Gwazda, contributed a personal and insightful reflection on working with Rapoport in the last years of her life. Support for the catalogue was generously provided by the Jay DeFeo Trust, through fiscal sponsorship of Kala Art Institute, and published by Mills College Art Museum on the occasion of the acquisition of Yes or No? for their collection.
– Text by KunstWorks