Artist Reinterprets Old Masters: Kathleen Gilje Speaks at SUNY New Paltz

NEW PALTZ — Kathleen Gilje, an art restorer known for reinterpreting the Old Masters with a sly, contemporary twist, will give a lecture Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in Lecture Center Room 100 at SUNY New Paltz. Gilje’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of an ongoing Art Lecture Series, sponsored by the Student Art Alliance, a funded member of the Student Association.

Classically trained as a restorer of 16th and 17th century Italian art, Gilje recreates works from the canon of art history but with a modern, feminist touch. She might put tattoos on a replica of Leonardo’s ”Lady With Ermine,” or show Raphael’s “La Donna Velata” with a black eye. In Gilje’s work, demure Renaissance women bare their breasts and El Grecco’s dignified “Grand Inquisitor” is surrounded by images of the electric chair.

Reviewers have hailed her as an artist who goes beyond technical bravura to present work dense with ideas. “The subtle and not-so-subtle alterations Gilje wreaks on the time-honored icons of Western painting make us think and see differently,” wrote Art in America about Gilje’s exhibitions last year in New York and Washington D.C. These new incarnations of old masterpieces, the reviewer said, seem to reveal the hidden implications within these works.

Critics routinely praise Gilje’s flawless technique. Often, her artwork includes wall text, wry commentary with a feminist slant that parodies academic jargon. In toto, the work combines satire with visual panache and ‘challenges the old boys’ club of traditional art history.”

Gilje has conserved art for the Cappo di Monte Museum in Naples, Italy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Norton Simon Collection in Pasadena, California and other museums around the world. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has exhibited widely.

To view images by Kathleen Gilje visit

– 30 –