Alexie Glass-Kantor on Grace Crowley

Part of a series of new perspectives on portraiture commissioned for Archie Plus

Grace Crowley

Portrait of Lucie Beynis

1929
oil on canvas on hardboard
Purchased 1965
© Reproduced with permission of Grace Crowley Estate

I see you sitting in your reverie, Lucie Beynis, cool and composed, yet also somehow defiant. Your body is set amidst dramatic cubist planes and semi-abstract geometries, yet it’s your elongated hands that beguile me. Your left hand frames your face in the subtlest of salutes – the two-fingered ‘V’ originally a sign of victory; more recently, of rebellion.

Grace Crowley, herself a strong and resolutely modern woman, painted you across four mornings in Paris in 1929. Yet your languid posture, your air of elegant endurance, speaks to my mood in 2020. I too feel tired – of staring at my screen, of living too much in the digital.

So, when my online meetings drag, and I find myself reclining and resting my head on my hand, I’ll subtly raise two fingers in salute to you and this seductive performance. As portrayed by Grace, you remind me how I’d like to get through the dull stuff – with style, seductive self-possession, and a quiet show of independence.

Alexie Glass-Kantor is executive director of Artspace, curator of the Australian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale (2022), and a food fan found via @curatorsgottoeat

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