Heilmann, a versatile postpop, multimedia virtuoso artist and teacher, was born and educated amid the West Coast art scene and influenced by such luminaries as Hans Hofmann, Peter Voulkos, and Bruce Nauman. Primarily a painter of large, vibrantly colorful, abstract canvases, she began her career as a sculptor and ceramicist and spent many years in New York City struggling to break into clannish, male-dominated galleries before achieving greater recognition in the early 1980s. Her paintings are both attractive and enigmatic, and the past two decades of her work can be described as a series of increasingly compelling chromatic experiments. This compact catalog accompanies a traveling exhibition of 68 pieces organized by the Orange County (CA) Museum of Art that represent the full span of Heilmann's 40-year career. Cumulatively, the impact of seeing these works is stunning. Included are essays by art historian Johanna Burton and critic Dave Hickey as well as an interview with Heilmann by curator Elizabeth Armstrong and artist Al Ruppersberg. While not necessary for most libraries, this is a worthwhile purchase for larger art collections wanting good coverage of the late 20th century and a better representation of women artists.
Douglas F. Smith