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At the Museums: Women, Represent!

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For years, some of New York's most prestigious art museums have gotten heat for not featuring enough female artists. A searing 2007 report by Jerry Saltz in New York Magazine revealed that women often made up less than 15 percent of a museum's permanent collection on display. Since then, there has been a move to make up for this imbalance. In fact, this week, a number of local arts institutions have female-heavy rosters.

The Jewish Museum has devoted an entire floor to chronicling eight decades of feminist art—an intriguing round-up of artists (which includes a few dudes) tackling issues of gender and ethnic identity, among other topics. In midtown, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is in the midst of Modern Women, a long-running project focused on showcasing the women in their collection across various departments. The museum's painting and sculpture galleries recently did a small show devoted to Lee Bontecou, a sculptor known for her rugged mechanical abstractions. It also has a wonderful exhibit devoted to women photographers in the collection, which includes images by the street shooter extraordinaire, Helen Levitt. (That show is up through March. Do not miss!) And this week, MoMA opened Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen, which examines the evolution of the kitchen throughout the twentieth century. (Below, see a video that appears in the show. If you were wondering when it was that Americans began fetishizing every aspect of their kitchens, this should provide a clue. It's also a freaky-hilarious reminder of how women were often portrayed as alternately dimwitted and conniving by the entertainment industrial complex of the 1950s.)

Interested in digging a little deeper? Definitely check out MoMA's comprehensive, hernia-inducing catalogue Modern Women, which examines the work by modern and contemporary women in the museum's permanent collection.

And, if you like to see your art for free, a number of Chelsea gallery shows currently feature work by women. Carolina Nitsch Projects has collaborative works by the late grand dame of twentieth century sculpture, Louise Bourgeois, and British bad girl Tracey Emin. David Zwirner Gallery has a solo show by abstract painter Suzan Frecon, who was included in the last Whitney Biennial. And Luhring Augustine has the latest highly saturated video works of the earthy-spiritual Pipilotti Rist.