Like many Chicago Imagist artists of her generation, Christina Ramberg used the human figure as the main subject of her work. Usually, however, her paintings, prints and drawings examined the female form as a fragmented and highly stylized object. (See Smart Museum 2001.661, 2011.25-28.) She frequently employed the motifs of wrapping and binding expressively as decorative patterns that follow and enhance the female form, treated here as a pair of headless dressmakers’ dummies. Her style has been described as a darkly humorous and erotically sinister exploration of the “requirements” to which women subject themselves in order to make themselves desirable to male suitors.
Ramberg’s inventive modes were stimulated by a range of sources, comics and comic strips, Japanese printmaking, and the ritualistic body art of ancient and non-western tribal cultures that she is likely to have observed at Chicago’s Field Museum, within walking distance of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) where she studied. The decorative motif of luxurious well-groomed tresses also appears as a Surrealist trope of unexpected emergence in zones other than the head, but also as bizarre accoutrements. (See 1996.32p.) She printed the edition of this diptych etching with Phil Hanson at the SAIC.