Kathleen Gilje
American, b. 1945
The Text Message after Pieter Pourbus's Portrait of a Married Lady of Bruges and Images from Keith Haring
oil on panel, 2013
19 1/2 x 17 3/4 inches
Courtesy of the artist

Kathleen Gilje: Portraits of Paintings

May 3, 2014 - July 20, 2014

Hodge Galleries

While studying art restoration at the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, Italy, Kathleen Gilje became intimately familiar with the works of Old Masters and discovered her own passion for painting in a similar style. Combining her new love of painting and her restoration training, Gilje created her own brand of art, which she calls her "restorations." 

At first glance, the works appear familiar, as Gilje recreates masterworks such as Bronzino's 16th-century Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time and Bouguereau's 19th-century The Assault, but a closer look at each work will reveal a surprising twist. For example, Gilje has taken 19th-century portraits of mainly upper-class females by John Singer Sargent, stripped them of their clothing and ambiance and transformed them into individuals, important because of who they are and not what family they came from or to whom they are married. According to scholar Linda Nochlin, "The subtle and not-so-subtle alterations Gilje wreaks on the time-honored icons of Western painting make us think and see differently. These new incarnations of old masterpieces, 'contemporary restorations,' as Gilje calls them, seem to reveal the hidden implications of the works themselves, implications that, for the most part, only a present-day feminist would be privy to."

Gilje's reworking of familiar and famous paintings makes her artwork appear as a portrait of the original paintings she draws from. The exhibition, comprising of over 30 works, is divided into four sections that follow themes popular in the artist's milieu: Feminism & Self-Portraits, Old Master Paintings, Art Critics & Artists, and Sargent's Women. 

This exhibition is sponsored by


From the Exhibition

  • Kathleen Gilje, American, b. 1945, Allegory of Venus, Restored (Sigmund Freud), 1997, oil on panel, 58 1/2 x 46 3/8 inches. Private collection

  • Kathleen Gilje, American, b. 1945, Basquiat as Velazquez's Portrait of Juan De Pareja, 2011, oil on linen, 32 1/4 x 28 3/4 inches. Collection of the Artist

  • Kathleen Gilje, American, b. 1945, Self-Portrait Decapitating a Rooster as Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith and Holofernes, 2012, oil on linen, 79 1/2 x 65 1/4 inches. Collection of the Artist

  • Kathleen Gilje, American, b. 1945, Self Portrait with Paintbrush after Bouguereau's The Assault, 2012, oil on linen, 61 1/4 x 41 1/2 inches. Collection of the Artist

  • Kathleen Gilje, American, b. 1945, Ginevra Da Benci, Restored, 1999, oil on panel, 15 7/8 x 15 inches. Courtesy of Peggy & Dick Danzinger