Shrine for Girls, New York

Flag Art Foundation
545 W 25th Street, New York NY
June 9 – July 29, 2016

Originally presented as a Collateral Event for the 56 th Venice Biennale, Shrine for Girls is a poetic sculptural installation and a meditation on the global plight of exploited girls and women who have been victimized, brutally silenced, and written out of history simply because of their gender. After its New York presentation, the project will travel in 2017-18 to India, Ireland, and Nigeria – the locations of the events that inspired the work.

Cronin gathered hundreds of articles of women’s and girls’ clothing from around the world to represent three specific tragedies: brightly-colored saris symbolize two Indian girls who were kidnapped, gang-raped, and lynched from a tree at the edge of their village; hijabs signify 276 Nigerian Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram in 2014 – over 200 of whom still remain missing; and gray and white aprons & uniforms symbolize those worn by “fallen women,” in forced labor at the Magdalene Asylums and Laundries in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the U.S.

Moving from the marble alters and sacred architecture of Venice’s sixteenth-century Chiesa di San Gallo to the secular gallery context of FLAG, Cronin will present the same three fabric sculptures, here piled on top of their shipping crates to now address human trafficking as well as human rights issues. The installation of clothing, of what the missing bodies would have inhabited, provokes an emotional and visceral response to what is absent. Small photographs of each tragedy accompany the sculptures and provide very real context for the work. A new series of watercolor portraits place a human face on tragedy and amplify the “identifiable victim effect,” drawing our attention away from statistics to the magnitude of the individual loss and unrealized human potential. Cronin asks: “What is the role of contemporary art in our 24-hour news cycle society? What can an artist do if they are not a politician, a policy maker or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? Hopefully the artist looks out, keenly observes the world, reflects, and responds in a way that shakes us out of our numbness. We cannot be silent.”



Shrine for Girls, Venice

Solo Collateral Event of the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia
Curated by Ludovico Pratesi, Presented by Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects

Chiesa di San Gallo, Venice, Italy
May 6 – November 22, 2015

Although the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, women and girls around the world continue to be among the most vulnerable members of our global society. Often facing violence, repression, and enforced ignorance, this young female populace is subjected to a horrifying existence on earth.

Inside the exquisite sixteenth-century Church of San Gallo, where Bill Viola showed in 2007, New York-based conceptual artist Patricia Cronin has created a shrine in their honor. For over two decades, critically acclaimed artist Patricia Cronin has created compelling works, many with social justice themes focusing on gender. Here, she has gathered hundreds of girls’ clothes from around the world and arranged them on three stone altars to act as relics of these young martyrs. Commemorating their spirit, this dramatic site-specific installation is a meditation on the incalculable loss of unrealized potential and hopelessness in the face of unfathomable human cruelty; juxtaposed against the obligation and mission we have as citizens of the world to combat this prejudice.




Come Together : Surviving Sandy

Industry City
220 36th Street, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, ny
October 20 - december 15 2013



“Le Macchine, Gli Dei e I Fantasmi”
(Machines, Gods and Ghosts)

Curated by Ludovico Pratesi
Musei Capitolini, Centrale Montemartini Museo
Rome, Italy
October 9 - november 20 2013

Musei Capitolini, Centrale Montemartini Museo is pleased to announce Le Macchine, Gli Dei e I Fantasmi an exhibition of 6 new works by Rome Prize awarded artist Patricia Cronin, the first contemporary artist to be exhibited in the converted electrical power plant. Cronin’s new body of work, created specifically for the unique industrial space, features monumental ghost images inspired by her recent series rediscovering the life and career of the famous American sculptor, Harriet Hosmer and the classical statues, masterpieces from the Capitolini Musei collection, which are permanently on view at the Museum. Interspersed amongst the marble sculptures and industrial archeology, the fantasmi, printed on large-scale translucent silk panels, inject life into the vast Engine Hall, seemingly breathing and pulsing with each passing draft. At once present and absent, the veils offer physical, albeit ephemeral, presence to what is void, reminding us of the fickle, unstable, and fleeting nature of life and history.



NYC 1993: Experimental, Jet Set, Trash and No Star

new museum, New York, NY
february 13 - may 26, 2013


“Girls” and “Boys” were first exhibited in “Coming to Power: 25 Years of Sexually X-plicit Art by Women,” an exhibition co-curated by Cronin and fellow artist Ellen Cantor at David Zwirner in 1993. Cronin and Cantor were interested in images that expressed a fuller idea of female sexuality than those dominating culture and society at the time, which mainly consisted of objectified images of women and were often produced by men. The work presented in “Coming to Power” included painting, sculpture, photography, and performance by women of different generations, ethnicities, and sexual orientation, tracing a history of potent sexual art by women for women.

“Girls” and “Boys” capture the sexual act from the perspective of the participants, a point of view from within the erotic space rather than from an objective place of observation. Cronin’s Polaroids incorporate transgressive elements such as bondage props as well as images of cultural and political figures such as Madonna and George H. W. Bush. Cronin had also been making erotic watercolors at the time that depicted the artist and her partner, in extreme close-up and larger-than-life scale, in a range of intimate acts, both tender and highly sexual. In contradiction to much of the lesbian pornography in circulation (made by straight men for straight men), Cronin’s images give agency to the sexualized female as cultural and visual producer, speaking to larger questions regarding queer, lesbian, or feminist positions within society.



Dante: The Way Of All Flesh

Ford projects, new york, ny
november 8 - december 21, 2012


Dante: The Way Of All Flesh is a meditation on the human condition, using Dante Alighieri’s Inferno as a point of departure. Comprised of oil paintings and watercolors, Cronin continues Dante’s exploration of justice and revenge using her own expressive language. This new cycle of figurative works are representative of the artist’s response to our current global circumstances. By focusing on the human form, Cronin reinforces the concept of our shared humanity, albeit from the perspective of a disillusioned present.

The painterly figures that Cronin creates take their visual cues from over seven centuries of artistic interpretations, beginning with 14th century illuminated manuscripts up to Italian fashion magazines, in addition to tracings of the artist’s own body and her archive of personal photographs taken throughout Italy. With a deft understanding of her materials, Cronin allows the figures to take shape in natural states and creates surfaces with both bold and meticulous strokes. With an intense palette of reds, oranges, cool blues and purples, the artist depicts the dead and the hell of their own design.



Memorial to a Marriage

Kelvingrove art gallery and museum, glasgow, scotland
May 2012 - Present

Memorial To A Marriage, Bronze, 2/3rds scale
on permanent view at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland.  


Patricia Cronin : All Is Not Lost

newcomb art gallery, tulane university, new orleans, la
all photographs by Owen Murphy
april 25 - june 30 2012

Patricia Cronin’s work traffics in love and death, and in the intimate relations between these two structuring poles of human existence. The exhibition All is Not Lost brings together the two projects that best exemplify these concerns: her funerary sculpture Memorial to a Marriage from 2000-02 and a group of more than sixty watercolors based on the work of Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908), an American sculptor who lived most of her adult life as an expatriate in Europe.

Memorial to a Marriage is a funerary sculpture carved in white Carrara marble that depicts two female figures, intertwined in a sleeping embrace. The figures are nude, their breasts exposed, their hair sexily splayed across the pillows. A sheet drapes across the lower part of their bodies, leaving their feet exposed, and in a particularly poignant detail – a punctum if you will – their feet delicately touch. It is the detail that emblematizes the love, here imaged as eternal. Indeed, the original sculpture is installed at the New York City’s Woodlawn Cemetery awaiting the passing of the artist and her spouse, Deborah Kass.

For the Hosmer series, Cronin meticulously researched the nineteenth century sculptor’s life and made small delicate grisaille watercolor renderings of all of her known works. Accompanying these drawings are traditional catalogue entries written by Cronin that properly enumerate the provenance of each work, account for their multiple iterations, and their exhibition histories. Each entry contains a description of the work, along with an explication of its iconography and a restrained version of interpretation. For works whose locations are unknown, Cronin made abstract drawings, glowing white forms that suggest a vague shadow of what the original shape might have been.

Both projects show Cronin’s interest in neoclassicism, allowing her to tap into the centuries-long aesthetic pursuit of the ideal – a pursuit, it is worth noting, that holds almost no contemporary interest. The legacy of the movements for social justice that dominated the second half of the twentieth century sought to supplant the ideal with the specific. But the time travel of history continues: the groundskeepers at Woodlawn will tend to Memorial to a Marriage and some, as yet, unborn curator will inherit the task of caring for the sixty-odd watercolors that comprise the Harriet Hosmer project, guaranteeing that the work of the two women, separated by centuries, but who nonetheless shared a love of the ideal, can survive the transient pleasures of the everyday.

Adapted from an essay by Helen Molesworth appearing in Patricia Cronin: All is Not Lost (2012)




Harriet Hosmer: Lost and Found

brooklyn museum, brooklyn ny
june 5, 2009 - january 24, 2010

In this solo exhibition in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn-based artist Patricia Cronin presents watercolors illustrating the work of the nineteenth-century American expatriate sculptor Harriet Hosmer.

Hosmer defied expected roles for female artists of her day and yet achieved an uncommon level of success. However, today she is remembered only by a relatively small group of specialists. Inspired by the dearth of thorough scholarship on Hosmer, Cronin has compiled the definitive Hosmer catalogue raisonné (the publication that comprehensively lists an artist’s complete works). In the book, each of Hosmer’s works is represented by a watercolor painted by Cronin. A selection of these watercolors comprises the exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

Hosmer’s neoclassical works depict such historical, mythological, and literary figures as Zenobia, Medusa, and Puck. Cronin’s watercolors capture Hosmer’s noble and playful subjects, as well as the luminosity of the marble carvings. In her research, Cronin has found written references to a handful of Hosmer sculptures that do not appear to have ever been photographed. To represent these pieces, Cronin has made watercolors of what she calls “ghosts”—vague, formless, and ethereal images of sculptures that exist undocumented somewhere in the world, but are lost to art history. 



Patricia Cronin : Memorial to a Marriage Bronze

The Fields Sculpture Park, OMI International Arts Center, Ghent, NY
Photograph by Ross Willows

Bronze, over life-size, 2011