The Aldrich Museum Is Updating Its Landmark Feminist Art Show From 1971 With a New Generation of Women Artists

Lucy Lippard's landmark 1971 exhibition was one of the first to acknowledge the institutional invisibility of women artists.

Tourmaline, Violet Copper (2020–21). Photo courtesy of the artist and Chapter NY, New York.

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut is revisiting its landmark 1971 feminist art exhibition “26 Contemporary Women Artists” with a new twist. Opening next summer, the museum will put artists featured in the original show, including Howardena Pindell, Mary Heilmann, and Adrian Piper, in dialogue with a new crop of emerging women and nonbinary artists for “52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone.”

The original show, organized by writer and curator Lucy Lippard, marked one of the first times a museum addressed the invisibility of women in institutions and art history.

“I took on this show because I knew there were many women artists whose work was as good or better than that currently being shown, but who, because of the prevailingly discriminatory policies of most galleries and museums, can rarely get anyone to visit their studios or take them as seriously as their male counterparts,” Lippard wrote in the catalogue.

Rising stars such as Loie Hollowell, Leilah Babirye, and Tourmaline are among the 26 new additions. All of the artists live in New York and were born in 1980 or after. In keeping with Lippard’s criteria for the 1971 exhibition, none of them have yet had a solo museum show.

Howardena Pindell, Carnival Bahia, Brazil (2017). Photo courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

Howardena Pindell, Carnival Bahia, Brazil (2017). Photo courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

“Our selection reflects the revolutionary advancement of feminist art practices over a half century,” said Aldrich curator Amy Smith-Stewart, who organized the show with Alexandra Schwartz and Caitlin Monachino. The curatorial team picked artists who “exhibit a diversity of experiences and a multiplicity of sensibilities united by a 21st-century feminist expression that is inclusive, expansive, elastic and free,” she said.

The 1971 show helped established the feminist curatorial field in U.S. museums. Some of the featured artists, such as Pindell and Piper, have gone on to enjoy significant institutional attention in the ensuing years; other names are less familiar.

“52 Artists” will highlight the collective cultural impact of both artists and the show as a whole, illustrating their impact on the current generation of women and nonbinary artists.

Merrill Wagner, <em>Inlet</em> (2010). Photo courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, New York.

Merrill Wagner, Inlet (2010). Photo courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, New York.

All but three of the original 26 artists will be back for the new show, either with the same pieces shown in 1971, recreations of ephemeral pieces, or with other works from the period, as well as examples of their current practices, showing how they have evolved over the past half century.

It will be the first exhibition to take over all 8,000 square feet of the Aldrich’s building.

Erin M. Riley, <em>Webcam 2</em> (2020). Photo courtesy of the artist and PPOW, New York.

Erin M. Riley, Webcam 2 (2020). Photo courtesy of the artist and PPOW, New York.

Artists selected for “52 Artists”:

Leilah Babirye (b. 1985)
Phoebe Berglund (b. 1980)
LaKela Brown (b. 1982)
Lea Cetera (b. 1983)
Susan Chen (b. 1992)
Pamela Council (b. 1986)
Lizania Cruz (b. 1983)
Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski (b. 1985)
Florencia Escudero (b. 1987)
Alanna Fields (b. 1990)
Emilie L. Gossiaux (b. 1989)
Ilana Harris-Babou (b. 1991)
Loie Hollowell (b. 1983)
Maryam Hoseini (b. 1988)
Hannah Levy (b. 1991)
Catalina Ouyang (b. 1993)
Anna Park (b. 1996)
Erin M. Riley (b. 1985)
L.J. Roberts (b. 1980)
Aya Rodriguez-Izumi (b. 1986)
Aliza Shvarts (b. 1986)
Astrid Terrazas (b. 1996)
Tourmaline (b. 1983)
Rachel Eulena Williams (b. 1991)
Kiyan Williams (b. 1991)
Stella Zhong (b. 1993)

Artist from the 1971 exhibition: (*starred artists are not participating in “52 Artists”)

Cecile Abish (b. 1926)
Alice Aycock (b. 1946)
Cynthia Carlson (b. 1942)
Sue Ann Childress* (b. 1947)
Glorianna Davenport* (b. 1944)
Susan Hall (b. 1943)
Mary Heilmann (b. 1940)
Audrey Hemenway (1930–2008)
Laurace James (b. 1936)
Mablen Jones (b. 1943)
Carol Kinne (1942–2016)
Christine Kozlov (1945–2005)
Brenda Miller (b. 1941)
Mary Miss (b. 1944)
Dona Nelson (b. 1947)
Louise Parks* (b. 1944)
Shirley Pettibone (1936–2011)
Howardena Pindell (b. 1943)
Adrian Piper (b. 1948)
Sylvia Plimack Mangold (b. 1938)
Reeva Potoff (b. 1941)
Paula Tavins (1936–2019)
Merrill Wagner (b. 1935)
Grace Bakst Wapner (b. 1934)
Jackie Winsor (b. 1941)
Barbara Zucker (b. 1940)

“52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone” will be on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 258 Main Street Ridgefield, Connecticut, June 4, 2022 to January 8, 2023. 

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