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The resurgence of women-only art shows


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Today in the New York Times, Hilarie M. Sheetsmarch reports on the recent increase in women-only shows at US museums and galleries, highlighting upcoming shows at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the New Museum, and elsewhere. The artists and curators Sheetsmarch talks to attribute this resurgence to renewed interest in feminism in the wider culture, but also, more cynically, to a sense among dealers that female artists represent a “new market.” An excerpt:

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.

The most prominent spring show is “Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women” at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, the inaugural exhibition of the gallery’s new Los Angeles branch. It joins an all-women lineup at the Saatchi Gallery in London and at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, where Mera Rubell, its co-founder, has seen a 20 percent spike in attendance over last year and enthusiasm from families bringing their daughters to see the show, “No Man’s Land.”

Image: Lynda Benglis in 1971. Via NY Times.