Deborah Kass (b. 1952) is an multidisciplinary artist, who examines how politics, pop culture, art history, and identity interact within a Pop art sensibility. Interested in ideas of appropriation, gender issues, feminism, and humor, Kass works in a variety of media, including painting, prints, neon, sculpture, and installation. She is interested in challenging ideas of gender and the status quo as well as the art establishment and the role of feminism within it.
Born in San Antonio, TX, Kass received her BFA in Painting at Carnegie Mellon University, and studied at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and the Art Students League of New York. Her first major series, “Art History Paintings,” established her appropriation style. In these works, she combined Disney characters with images from famous artists (Picasso, Pollock, etc.) and other contemporary styles. In the 1990s, she used Warhol’s signature style to render images of herself and women celebrities, including Barbara Streisand as Jackie Kennedy Onassis. “The Warhol Project” is her most well-known series, and she continues to re-visit his style. “Feel Good Paintings for Feel Bad Times,” a series she undertook in 2002, further developed her appropriation vocabulary, using canonical formats of leading post-war artists, such as Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol. She also began incorporating text, pulled from the lyrics of Broadway musicals, Yiddish phrases, film dialogue, and popular music.
Kass’s work is in the collection of Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Jewish Museum, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; and The National Portrait Gallery, DC, among others. Recent exhibitions were held at The Pittsburgh Biennial at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; The Jewish Museum, New York, NY; and Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY. In 2012, The Andy Warhol Museum hosted “Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After, a Mid-Career Retrospective.” That year, Kass was also included in “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years” at the Metropolitan Museum, NY. “Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After Kass,” a major monograph by Eric Shiner and with contributions by Robert Storr and Griselda Pollock, was published to accompany her survey at the Warhol Museum. She is a Senior Critic in the Graduate Painting Program at Yale University.