1960s and 1970s

Sharrer’s art changed as the social issues of the 1960s and ‘70s developed. Postwar anxiety over the proliferation of nuclear arms was joined by a series of assassinations (President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others), a Civil Rights Movement that encountered violent clashes, and an escalating conflict in Vietnam.

The country’s economic boom created a new level of prosperity for Americans, who increasingly conformed to images of themselves found on TV and in popular magazines. Sharrer’s response ties her to Pop Art, whose artists also engaged this new consumer culture by reusing images from magazines, newspapers, billboards, and other mass media.

Sources for Sharrer’s art can be traced to popular songs, nursery rhymes, and ubiquitous advertisements. She was drawn to images of stereotypical roles, such as housewife, rebel, or celebrity. She was equally attracted to candid moments that caught leaders or socialites falling short of their public personas. Sharrer’s works from this era are characterized as playful, provocative, or witty—and indeed they are. However, she used such humor to reveal the stressful gap between real life experience and expected conformity to social norms. 

 

Image: Honoré Sharrer. American, 1920–2009. Mother Goose, 1960. Oil on canvas. 26½ × 37½ in. (67.31 × 95.25 cm). Collection of Adam Zagorin and the late Perez Zagorin