At the Museums: Women, Represent!

Friday, September 17, 2010 - 10:06 AM

Hannah Wilke, Venus Pareve, 1982-84, painted plaster of Paris (Courtesy of the Jewish Museum)

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.


Carolina A. Miranda

Hosted by:

Richard Hake

Produced by:

Abbie Fentress Swanson


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Comments [2]


Also, I'm not sure if the 'all female artists' shows actually help in the matter. The sentiment is good but I can't help but feel it just ends up 'ghetto-izing' women artists. Placing them into another category which is exclusive and prohibitive as the end result. The best thing, in my opinion, is equal representation. Galleries, museums, residencies, etc allowing equal representation and compensation.

Feb. 01 2011 08:07 AM

No matter how you phrase it, the Moma's show (in response to more female art?) is still about kitchens. Domestic spaces. It would almost be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

Feb. 01 2011 08:01 AM

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About Gallerina

Carolina A. Miranda is a regular contributor to WNYC and blogs about the arts for the station as "Gallerina." In addition to that, she contributes articles on culture, travel and the arts to a variety of national and regional media, including Time, ArtNews, Travel + Leisure and Budget Travel and Florida Travel + Life. She has reported on the burgeoning industry of skatepark design, architectural pedagogy in Southern California, the presence of street art in museums and Lima's burgeoning food scene, among many other subjects. In 2008, she was named one of eight fellows in the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program for her arts and architecture blog, which has received mentions in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In January of 2010, the Times named her one of nine people to follow on Twitter. Got a tip? E-mail her at c [@] c-monster [dot] net


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