• Natalie Frank, (American, born 1980)
    All Fur III, from Tales of the Brothers Grimm, 2011–14, gouache and chalk pastel on paper, 30 x 22 inches

    Private Collection. © Natalie Frank. Photo: Farzad Owrang

     

    Natalie Frank, (American, born 1980)
    All Fur III, from Tales of the Brothers Grimm, 2011–14, gouache and chalk pastel on paper, 30 x 22 inches

    Private Collection. © Natalie Frank. Photo: Farzad Owrang

     

  • Natalie Frank, (American, born 1980)
    Belle-Belle V from Madame d’Aulnoy 2019–20, gouache and chalk pastel on paper,30 x 22 inches

    Collection of Shari Siadat. © Natalie Frank. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

    Natalie Frank, (American, born 1980)
    Belle-Belle V from Madame d’Aulnoy 2019–20, gouache and chalk pastel on paper,30 x 22 inches

    Collection of Shari Siadat. © Natalie Frank. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

  • Natalie Frank, (American, born 1980)
    Lucian of Samosata, ‘Eucraetes and Pancrates’ (c. 170 CE)” from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice 2016, gouache on paper,13¼ x 8¾ inches 30 x 22 inches

    Private Collection. © Natalie Frank. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

    Natalie Frank, (American, born 1980)
    Lucian of Samosata, ‘Eucraetes and Pancrates’ (c. 170 CE)” from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice 2016, gouache on paper,13¼ x 8¾ inches 30 x 22 inches

    Private Collection. © Natalie Frank. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

  • Natalie Frank, (American, born 1980)
    Story of O XV from Story of O 2019–20, gouache and chalk pastel on paper,30 x 20 inches.

    Collection of Kathleen and Chris Loughlin. © Natalie Frank. Photo: Coke O’Neal.

    Natalie Frank, (American, born 1980)
    Story of O XV from Story of O 2019–20, gouache and chalk pastel on paper,30 x 20 inches.

    Collection of Kathleen and Chris Loughlin. © Natalie Frank. Photo: Coke O’Neal.

Natalie Frank: Unbound

Friday, January 28, 2022 to Sunday, May 15, 2022
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Natalie Frank: Unbound is the first survey exhibition of Brooklyn, New York-based artist Natalie Frank’s (American, born 1980) drawings inspired by some of the best-known and most controversial literary narratives.

Spanning a decade of Frank’s feminist drawing practice, Unbound will present work from the artist’s four major drawing series, each of which is the result of Frank’s rigorous research.

“Fairy tales captivated me because many began as women’s oral tales that articulated female desires and fears,” said Frank. “Yet over time their authorship was erased and their voices neutered. I restore the identities of these overlooked female artists and transform their stories to create contemporary, paradigm-breaking female heroines.”

In Tales of the Brothers Grimm (2011–14), Frank presents the unvarnished original nineteenth century versions of these tales as images that celebrate female agency by elevating heroines and villainesses alike. Expanding on the history of illustrated books, figurative painting, and personal and political narrative, Frank’s drawings comprise the largest collection of Grimm’s fairy tales ever portrayed by an artist.

With her characteristically fluid gestural marks, Frank adds visual drama to tales of revolt and transformation in her black-and-white gouache-on-paper drawings that represent key scenes from Jack Zipes’s anthology The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2017).

In a suite of gouache and chalk pastel drawings, Frank reclaims the feminist Story of O (2017–18) and gives image to the psychosexual narratives of the book’s key scenes. In masterfully carnal compositions, she depicts O, the female protagonist, consensually engaging in scenarios of physical submission, domination, love, lust, and sexual freedom. This series deepens Frank’s exploration into intertwined representations of identity and desire, laying bare the power structures and practices surrounding the complicated sexuality of female bodies.

Finally, Frank’s drawings of Madame d’Aulnoy’s (2019–20) shrewd heroines are anything but conventional. She presents the author’s fantastical stories through a complex layering of color, form, material, and gesture. Frank’s visual contradictions—combinations of abstraction and figuration—parallel d’Aulnoy’s female protagonists, who, by embodying both evil and virtuosity, present a nuanced understanding of female identity.

Frank’s practice, in dialogue with worldwide conversations about agency, power, gender, and the #MeTOO and TIME’S UP movements, continues to raise questions of equity and advocacy for women’s voices. 

Natalie Frank: Unbound has been organized by MMoCA and Kemper Museum and co-curated by Leah Kolb, curator of exhibitions at MMoCA and Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs at Kemper Museum.

In the News

Artspeak Radio with artist Natalie Frank and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Exhibition Curator Erin Dziedzic | KKFI
Natalie Frank and Erin Dziedzic tell Kansas City what to expect in the upcoming exhibition, Natalie Frank: Unbound

Artist Check-in: Natalie Frank | 21c Museum Hotel
21c Museum Director and Chief Curator, Alice Gray Stites, and 21c Assistant Curator, Amethyst Rey Beaver, recently spoke with New York-based artist Natalie Frank.

What My Mentor, Paula Rego, Taught Me About Feminism, Drawing, and the Potential of a Well-Told Story | artnet news 
The artist penned a recent op-ed about the influence Rego's work, including on her own drawing practice. 

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Announces Natalie Frank: Unbound
Read the exhibition press release. 

Exhibition Programs

Camp Kemper
FREE | Ages 6–12 | Registration required

Day camps for kids featuring creative activities inspired by the exhibition. To register, email eclosen@kemperart.org.

     Virtual Winter Camp Kemper: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Folklore
     Saturday, Feb. 5, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. CT | Zoom | Register by Jan. 22

     Virtual Spring Camp Kemper: Illustration
     Wednesday, Mar. 30–Friday, Apr. 1, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. CT daily | Zoom | Register by Mar. 16

     Spring Camp Kemper: Storytelling Through Art
     Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. | In person at Kemper Museum (outdoors) | Register by May 7

Talk and Tours: Natalie Frank: Unbound
FREE | All Ages | Registration Encouraged

Kemper Museum’s Talk and Tour series invites participants to enjoy casual conversations with curators, educators, artists, designers, and others offering insight into their work and its connection to the exhibition.

     Curator-led with Erin Dziedzic
     Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2–3 p.m. | In person at Kemper Museum | Register.

     Artist’s Eye with SK Reed
     Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2–3 p.m. | In person at Kemper Museum | Register.

Fairy Tales Reimagined: The Brothers Grimm and Natalie Frank
Thursday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m. | In person at Kemper Museum
FREE | All Ages | Registration Required

Experience "Natalie Frank: Unbound" from a literary perspective in collaboration with the Young Friends of the Kansas City Public Library. Naphtali Faris, Lone Jack branch manager at Mid-Continent Public Library; and Kaite Stover, director of readers' services at the Kansas City Public Library, will facilitate a participatory discussion with Jade Powers, assistant curator at Kemper Museum. In advance, participants will receive a list of readings, podcasts, and other supplemental materials compiled by Young Friends of the Kansas City Public Library to enrich the experience.

Register for this limited capacity in-person program.

Virtual Guided Meditations
Thursdays, Mar. 10, Apr. 14, and May 5, 7 p.m. CT | Virtual
FREE | All Ages | Registration Required

In these virtual events, participants will be guided through meditation, qigong, breathing instruction, and sound healing, streamed from the Natalie Frank: Unbound galleries. No experience necessary and classes vary.

Register for Thursday, Mar. 10 | Register for Thursday, Apr. 14 | Register for Thursday, May 5

Gallery Guided Meditations
Thursdays, Mar. 10, Apr. 14, and May 5, 7 p.m. | In person at Kemper Museum
FREE | All Ages | Registration Required

Participants will be guided through meditation, qigong, breathing instruction, and sound healing in the Natalie Frank: Unbound galleries. No experience necessary and classes vary.

Register for Thursday, Mar. 10 | Register for Thursday, Apr. 14 | Register for Thursday, May 5

Studio Nights: Figure Drawing
FREE | Ages 13+ | Registration Required

Two evenings of figure drawing at the museum with a visiting art instructor, featuring live models. This new series of thematic and dramatic guided figure drawing sessions is inspired by work in the exhibition Natalie Frank: Unbound, Materials provided. All levels of experience are welcome. Email eclosen@kemperart.org to register.

     Studio Night: Theatrical Movement and Gesture
     Thursday, Mar. 31, 6–8 p.m. | In person at Kemper Museum

     Studio Night: Fantasy and the Figure
     Thursday, Apr. 28, 6–8 p.m. | In person at Kemper Museum

Kemper Museum Trivia Night: Fairy Tales
Thursday, Apr. 21, 6–8:30 p.m. | In person at Kemper Museum (outdoors)
FREE | All Ages | Registration Required

An outdoor trivia night focusing on fairy tales in conjunction with themes present in the  exhibition, Natalie Frank: Unbound. Complimentary meals will be provided to each registered team, courtesy of Café Sebastienne. Register your team of 3–6 participants by emailing Jade Powers at jpowers@kemperart.org with your team name as the subject. Space is limited.

Artist Talk: Natalie Frank
Thursday, May 12, 6 p.m. CT | Kemper Museum & Virtual
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

Artist Natalie Frank (American, born 1980) discusses her creative practice and exhibition of drawings inspired by some of the best-known and most controversial literary narratives.

Register for the virtual program | Register for the limited capacity in-person program.

Natalie Frank: Unbound Opening Celebration 
Thursday, May 12, 7 p.m. | In person at Kemper Museum
FREE | All Ages | Timed Tickets Required

Join the artist at Kemper Museum for a preview of Natalie Frank: Unbound and celebrate the exhibition’s opening.

Register for the limited capacity in-person program.

Exhibition Sponsors

This exhibition has been generously supported by the R. Crosby Kemper Jr. Exhibition Fund.

 

Premiere Benefactors

Todd and Emily Voth

Sustaining Sponsors

Judy O. Kirk/Kirk Foundation
Linda and Michael Lyon

Additional financial assistance is provided by generous donors and members, especially: William T. Kemper Charitable Trust, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee; Bebe & Crosby Kemper Foundation, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee; Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee; Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; The Family of Mary Beth Smith Docent Program; Evergy; Christy and Bill Gautreaux; Jack and Karen Holland Visiting Artist Fund; Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation; Bebe and Graham Hunt; Matt Smith & Lindsey Patterson Smith; Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, Commerce Bank, Trustee; Murphy-Hoffman Company; Jane Voorhees; Thomas and Sally Wood Family Foundation; Stanley J. Bushman and Ann Canfield; Charles M. Helzberg and Sandra Baer; Spencer Fane LLP; Copaken Family Fund; JE Dunn Construction; Francis Family Foundation; Kansas City University; Linda Lighton and Lynn Adkins; Catherine Mead; Virginia and James Moffett; Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation; Bradley and Linda Nicholson Foundation; Harry Portman Charitable Trust, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee; SpecChem; Courtney S. Turner Charitable Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; UMB Financial Corporation; RLS Illumination Fund; The Sosland Foundation 

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