Beauty and the Blonde: An Exploration of American Art and Popular Culture

November 16, 2007 - January 28, 2008
Kemper Art Museum


Beauty and the Blonde explores the significance and ubiquitous presence of the image of the blonde with a diverse range of artistic media, including film, photography, collage, prints, painting, sculpture, video, and interactive web projects, as well as in popular culture forms such as film posters, Barbie dolls, magazines, and other ephemera. The exhibition is divided into three thematic sections: Iconic Blonde, Deconstructing the Blonde, and Transforming the Blonde.

The first section, Iconic Blonde, traces the recurring and ambiguous subject of the blonde in American Pop art. Showcased in paintings, sculpture, and prints, the blonde was both spectacularly celebrated and treated with subtle irony. Deconstructing the Blonde emphasizes the ways in which artists of the 1970s and '80s began a far more critical investigation of the blonde ideal and its representation in popular media. Informed by feminist thought as well as conceptual strategies, artists in this era increasingly began to question and redefine the image of the blonde within a framework of representation, often turning to performance practices. The final section, Transforming the Blonde, looks at the ways in which the image of the blonde carries different meaning for artists with different racial backgrounds.

Opening November 16 and remaining on view until January 28, 2008,
Beauty and the Blonde is curated by Catharina Manchanda.

Read the Press Release >>

Featured artists

John Baldessari, Dara Birnbaum, Rosalyn Drexler, Ellen Gallagher, Duane Hanson, Robert Heinecken, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Nikki S. Lee, Roy Lichtenstein, Ana Mendieta, Pat Oleszko, Howardena Pindell, Mel Ramos, Robert Rauschenberg, Martha Rosler, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Andy Warhol, William Wegman, Tom Wesselmann, and Millie Wilson

Educator resources

The Museum's Education department connects special exhibitions with students of all levels through specialized tours, curriculum plans, hands-on activities, and more. Download the Connections Guide for the exhibition for more details.

Exhibition support

Support for Beauty and the Blonde was provided by James M. Kemper, Jr.; the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation; the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission; the Hortense Lewin Art Fund; and individual contributors to the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.