Dan Nadel and Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer,New York, 2016.
Hardcover, 104 pp., 76 color 5 bw illustrations, 9 x 11.5 inches.
Suellen Rocca, the artist’s first monograph, presents her paintings, drawings, and prints from the 1960s. During this period Rocca was a member of the Hairy Who, a group of six Chicago artists whose energetic work has provoked generations of artists in Chicago and beyond. Rocca’s work is notable for its unique visual language — a vocabulary of pictographic imagery inspired by consumer catalogues, magazine advertisements, and children’s activity books. In her 1965 painting Bare Shouldered Beauty and the Pink Creature, for example, feminine silhouettes share the canvas with an array of engagement rings, ice cream cones, television sets, and dresses. Rocca strived to capture what she calls “the cultural icons of beauty and romance expressed by the media that promised happiness to young women of that generation. This was the culture that surrounded me.”
Featuring full-color plates of over fifty artworks, virtually all of which are reproduced here for the first time, Suellen Rocca presents a thorough overview of the artist’s work from 1964 to 1969. An essay by Dan Nadel traces Rocca’s artistic development — from her childhood as an art prodigy on Chicago’s north side to her years with the Hairy Who — while situating her in the wider context of art history. Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer’s essay employs verse and prose to explore the thematic undercurrents of Rocca’s work. Completing the book are a bibliography and a narrative chronology of the artist’s life, illustrated with historical photographs and ephemera from her personal archive.