At last a long awaited exhibition of women’s abstract paintings from 1930 to 1950. Unfortunately the exhibition is too small to do justice to the many women artists of that period. However the Whitney Museum is arguing that women contributed immeasurably more to the history of abstract art in the mid-20th-century than is generally acknowledged.
Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction, 1930-1950 ,is displayed in far too small a space to do justice to the subject or artists. The obstacles these women artists faced and tricks they adopted to fight the indifference, condescension and critical hostility which was all increased for female applicants to the avant-guard boys club. They veiled themselves by changing or adapting their names to look or sound like men’s names. Lenore Krasner went by Lee, Irene Rice Pereira by the Initial I. Doris Bothwell called herself Dorr. All of them hoped not to be disqualified from serious attention by virtue of their names.
Now, the Whitney honours that resourcefulness in the same way MOMA did in 2017, with Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, by not making nearly enough space! The exhibition consists of only 27 artists many virtually unknown. Almost all the works live in the Whitney’s vaults, which could have furnished a far larger exhibition than what is on display.
Fortunately now days women abstract artist like myself do not have to fight such condescension or hostility they are generally respected however the competition is immense between innumerable artists all trying to survive in a franticly busy art world.
Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction runs to March 2022 at Whitney Museum New York. https://www.whitney.org
The Information for this blog comes from an article by Ariella Budick FT Weekend Arts.