Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction | MoMA

4.20.2017

This current exhibit shines light on women artists between the end of World War II (1945) and the start of the feminist movement (1968) at which time the center of the art world shifted from Paris to New York.

 

Andrea Bowers- lifelong activist

A Menace to Liberty 2012 Marker on found cardboard.

 

Included are works that range from the boldly gestural canvases of Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Joan Mitchell; the radical geometries by Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Gego; and the reductive abstractions of Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt, and Jo Baer; to the fiber weavings of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney; and the process-oriented sculptures of Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse.The exhibition also features many little-known treasures such as collages by Anne Ryan, photographs by Gertrudes Altschul, and recent acquisitions on view for the first time at MoMA by Ruth Asawa, Carol Rama, and Alma Woodsey Thomas.

Joan Mitchell Ladybug 1957

Inspired by nature. Second generation of Abstract Expressionists that emerged in the mid 1950s

 

Several of the marginalized women in this show were married to well-known masculine painters who did not have a support network but forged their own path. Lee Krasner/ Jackson Pollock, Elaine deKooning/Willem dekooning, Dorothy Dehner/David Smith.

 

The men associated with the movement became well known, yet the women got less acknowledgment. During this time period, women began to work outside the traditional hierarchies and reestablish their place in society. Those that attended a University allowed them to seek knowledge outside the scope of what they knew and understood. A cultural and social epiphany takes place not only in art but also within the world.

Beyond the traditional canvas, women began to interpret and channel concepts through the use of fiber and the grid such as Agnes Martin. Latin American (mainly four key countries Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay) artists also became prominent during the1950s and acted as different social and political voices. Inspired by architectural influences, it shaped the art they produced. Cubism and Constructivism served as international influences.

 

Of the 50 plus women who are in the show, there are 12 still alive in their 80’s or older.

 

The MOMA director Glenn Lowry along with two of the curators anticipate using this current show as an opportunity to review the familiar names and expand the narratives around these women that we all know best. The director and curators continue to expand their knowledge and make a broader picture through additional research. The narrative of the exhibition acts as a catalyst, making us consider what has not been expressed thus far and expand the conversation.

 

The value of the exhibition is to review what they have hung and use as a catalyst for the narrative of the show and consider what has not been expressed thus far and continue to reconsider and explore and expand future conversations.

 

 

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