Delicate Coexistence

Joanna Beall and H.C. "Cliff" Westermann

Born to an upperclass family in Chicago, Joanna Beall Westermann was a student of both Josef Albers at Yale and Diego Rivera in Mexico – but it was in her hometown, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she would complete her formal art training. It was also at this institution that Westermann would meet H.C. Westermann, whom she married in 1959 in a union that shocked her family. Announcing their 2021 exhibition Joanna Beall Westermann, Venus Over Manhattan noted that, at the insistence of Joanna's family, "the couple lived on the Beall estate for most of their marriage. The delicate coexistence of Beall, Westermann, and her family is a curiosity of the artist’s biography that provides important context for appreciating the complex depictions of domestic life in many of the works on display." Known by those close to him as "Cliff," H.C. Westermann passed away in 1981, two years before Joanna made this work dedicated to his memory.