While some artists are ambivalent about being viewed through the lens of gender, the all-women’s group show, which fell out of favor in the ’80s and ’90s, is flourishing again. At least a dozen galleries and museums are featuring women-themed surveys, a surge curators and gallerists say is shining a light on neglected artists, resuscitating some careers and raising the commercial potential of others.
These shows are “playing catch-up after centuries of women’s marginality and invisibility,” said the artist Barbara Kruger, who has both declined and agreed to participate in all-women shows. Galleries looking for fresh names to promote and sell have more than altruism in mind: They are sensing opportunity “to cultivate a new market,” Ms. Kruger said.
In Ms. Reilly’s 2015 Artnews article “Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures and Fixes,” she showed statistically a vast gender imbalance in terms of museum exhibitions and permanent collections, prices, gallery representation and press coverage. Last year, just seven percent of the artists on view in the Museum of Modern Art’s collection galleries were women. “Obviously great women artists have emerged, but unfortunately those are still token achievers,” Ms. Reilly said.
If these shows don’t close the gender divide, they at least provide substantial investment and rigorous scholarship to illuminate narratives that have slipped from the art historical record. The intergenerational lineup of 34 sculptors at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel includes younger artists like Kaari Upson and Shinique Smith alongside modernist forerunners like Louise Bourgeois, Claire Falkenstein, Eva Hesse and Lynda Benglis.
An excellent article, and some great shows coming up.