Butler to Exhibit the Emotional Paintings of Kim Novak

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Kim Novak will return to The Butler Institute of American Art this weekend with 22 of her latest paintings.

The show, “Kim Novak: Unmasked Emotions,” consists of artwork the former film star created after the November 2020 death of her husband, equine veterinarian Robert Malloy. Novak created the works during the pandemic and in its aftermath as a way of working through emotions.

It will be the third time Novak, 91, has shown her works at The Butler. Her previous shows were in 2014 and 2019.

The exhibition will open Sunday with a public reception from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Giffuni Gallery and will run through Aug. 18. Novak will be present at the reception. 

“I am thrilled to announce that my recent artworks, created since the passing of my soul mate, will be on exhibit at the Butler art museum,” Novak posted on her website. “Hope to see you there.”

Sunday’s reception will also include the screening of a 30-minute documentary about the artist, “Kim Novak, the Golden Age Rebel,” at 3 p.m.

The 2022 film, directed by Jessica Menendez, was made by the French film production company Tangerine and is in French and English. It examines Novak’s Hollywood career and other aspects of her life.

The Chicago-born actor was launched into stardom with her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s landmark 1958 film “Vertigo.”

Novak famously walked away from her film career in the late ’60s, struggling with mental health and displeased with the roles she was being offered.

She married Malloy in 1976, and the two have long been advocates for animal rights and care.

First Love

Painting was Novak’s first love, said Butler museum spokesperson Susan Carfano, and the actor returned to the art form after leaving Hollywood behind.

“A Wave of Memories, A Hand, Full of Feelings,” a pastel by Kim Novak, a portrait of her late husband, Robert Malloy.

Novak’s upcoming exhibition includes several portraits that employ her signature style. Faces are framed with colorful swirling lines, imparting a dreamlike quality.

Some of the paintings in the exhibition reference the war in Ukraine, according to Carfano.

Poetry is another passion of Novak’s, and many of the paintings will be accompanied by one of her poems. Both the art and the poem go together as part of her storytelling style.

“She wants people to find clues from the poem that will give you the meaning of the painting,” Carfano said. “She considers herself a storyteller, and she tells the story through her paintings.”

The artist has said she reveals her deepest thoughts and emotions in her vivid paintings and poetry.

“Before I leave this world, I would like you to see into my art, and into my soul … from my perspective,” she wrote in her press materials.

“Since childhood I have looked at life through the magnifying lens of a very vivid imagination. I enjoy dissecting insights, painting visions, and often turning words into verse, my rhyming words into a kind of ‘treasure hunt.’ My greatest desire has always been to touch your emotions like you have touched mine … with all the colors of a rainbow.”

Louis A. Zona, executive director of The Butler and its chief curator, said Novak’s paintings offer “strong statements relating to her self-image.”

Since her first exhibition at The Butler a decade ago, Novak has developed a strong relationship with the museum.

Like her previous shows, the upcoming exhibit will be shown only at the museum. Novak will also give certain paintings to The Butler for its collection, Carfano noted.

Pictured at top: “Me, My Sis and Covid,” a painting by Kim Novak that will be included in her upcoming exhibition at The Butler Institute of American Art.

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