Linda Stein: Portraits in Mood – 2002 (Also in Smith College Catalog, 2004)


Member, International Association of Art Critics, USA Section

Returning to painting, collage, and mixed media on paper after her creation of sculptures in wood and metal, Linda Stein continues her longstanding exploration of the body as a study in classical idealism and private fantasy. During the late 1970’s Stein first romanced prominent facial features (Profile as if Wire Sculpture 375, Solid Profile 383, 1975) to develop a personal language from her seductive notations. In her “profile writing”, (Profile Letter 377, 1978), abstractions of angular nose, curvilinear lips and chin were repeated to form a personal calligraphy, a cryptic text. At times, extensions of a shoulder become an abstracted landscape (Stretch 55, 1975).
Now the face has become Stein’s source for the celebration of moods and seasons of life. A series of transformed portraits dominates the artistic imagery of her recent work. These provocative head studies – frequently in a grid formation (Margaret Sanger 380, 2002, NARAL/NY commission; Jill & Barry 372, 2002, Lafer commission; Billie Jean King 382, 2002, The Center commission) – both reveal and obscure her subjects, thus invoking a range of associations. Vivid hues, elaborate patterns, and pronounced textures convey various moods – from the celebratory to the contemplative, from the whimsical to the profound.

I imagine that everyone will want to be a subject of Linda Stein’s portraits in mood. Her artistic inquiry into the self is thrilling. For couples, she conveys the linking of devotion and friendship. For the individual, Stein’s strong profiles reveal the true nature of her sitter (Margaret Sanger 380, 2002, NARAL/NY commission; Roxana 378, 2002, Tetenbaum commission; Peter 381, 2002, Lafer commission) – releasing magical realms and unlocking the mysteries of an inner reality.