The Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum opens its first (digital) exhibition
March 7, 2024
Photography and feminist activism, Jacob Rothschild remembered and Robert Ryman
March 7, 2024
The Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum opens its first (digital) exhibition
March 7, 2024
Photography and feminist activism, Jacob Rothschild remembered and Robert Ryman
March 7, 2024

When the art historian and author Katy Hessel published her 2022 opus, The Story of Art Without Men, it was a storming success. Pundits declared it a foundational text, a beautiful corrective. One lauded her “unapologetically revisionist” campaign against the patriarchal way in which the world’s history of art has been written to date.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024, which falls today, is inspiring inclusion. The absurdly high levels of gender imbalance in both institutional exhibition programming and collections, not to mention gallery representation and artwork pricing, suggest the art world has a long way before it achieves real inclusivity.

Here is a list of exhibitions and events in the UK and beyond that are moving things forward.

Acts of Creation: On Art and Motherhood

Arnolfini, Bristol, 9 March – 26 May

Given that galleries still drop artists when they become pregnant, a show devoted to the artist mother as a central cultural figure—too long rendered invisible—feels critically important. Curated by the art critic and author Hettie Judah, the exhibition features artists including Rineke Dijkstra, Tracey Emin, Tala Madani and Carrie Mae Weems. After Bristol, the exhibition tours to the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham, Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery and Dundee Contemporary Arts.

Sethembile Msezane, Chapungu – The Day Rhodes Fell (2015)

Acts of Resistance: Photography, Feminisms and the Art of Protest

South London Gallery, until 9 June

The latest exhibition to come out of the superlative V&A Parasol Foundation Women in Photography project see the likes of Nan Goldin, the Guerrilla Girls and Zanele Muholi turn their lens on protests against rape, rising anti-abortion legislation and deaths of women in police custody. One in three women over the age of 15, globally, have been subject to physical and/or sexual violence. This is an urgent presentation of the camera as a tool of dissent and evidence gathering. Listen to the latest episode of our The Week in Art podcast to hear Sarah Allen, the head of programme at the South London Gallery, and Fiona Rogers, the V&A’s Parasol Foundation curator of women in photography, speak about the show.

The Women’s Museum in Barking opens today

An Idea of a Life

Women’s Museum, London, until 21 December

In this exhibition, contemporary artists respond to the ancient abbatial history of a new east London locale that opens today. The Women’s Museum, located at 4 Barking Wharf Square, is billed as an inclusive social space aiming to highlight the achievements of women and gender non-conforming people.

Top row (left to right): Floella Benjamin, Jameela Jamil, Anna Whitehouse, Amy Dowden, Carol Vorderman. Bottom row (left to right): Rosie Jones, Penny Mordaunt, Sara Pascoe, Maggie Alphonsi, Kate Garraway

Independent Women: The Influence List 2024

The Independent newspaper has compiled a new list of Britain’s 50 most influential women. In first place is Esther Ghey, the mother of Brianna Ghey, the teenager who was murdered for being transgender in Warrington, in 2023. Also named are the broadcasters Kate Garraway an Claudia Winkleman, the footballer Mary Earps and the politician Sue Gray. An accompanying exhibition of portraits at the Outernet in London, is to be auctioned—along with an exclusive Tracey Emin portrait—for the domestic violence charity, Refuge.

The tapestry will be unveiled at the V&A today

The Edinburgh Seven Tapestry

V&A South Kensington, London, until 27 May

Designed by Christine Borland and commissioned by Edinburgh’s pre-eminent Dovecot Studios, this large-scale triptych commemorates a group of medical students who, in 1869, became the first women to matriculate from a British university. It is a resounding rebuke to the pervasive notion that any medium be considered inferior for being seen as female. It also serves as a reminder that International Women’s Day is not only about women’s right to exist, safely, but a celebration of accomplishment and power.

One of the photographs by Dorothy Bohm included in the show

About Women: Photographs by Dorothy Bohm; Marie-Louise von Motesiczky: (in)Visible Women

Burgh House, Hampstead, until 15 December

Respectively a painter and a photographer, who had both sought refuge from the Nazi regime in London in the 1930, for decades Motesiczky and Bohm consistently homed in on the lives of women throughout a century shaped by war and feminisms. What this dual exploration underlines is how consistently women have made art in relative obscurity: as many have pointed out, histories, including Ernst Gombrich’s fabled Story of Art, ignore them almost entirely.

Katy Hessel at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York Photo:

Museums Without Men audioguides

This latest salvo in Hessel’s battle to write women back into art history sees visitors directed to works already present in institutional collections. Ruth Asawa and Mary Cassatt at Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Lucy Rie and Barbara Hepworth at the Hepworth Wakefield. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s Tate Britain have signed up, with more to come. This of course will underscore quite how far many collections are from anything resembling gender parity and, one hopes, galvanise further acquisitions redress.

Marlene Haring, Because Every Hair is Different (2005)

In the Now: Gender and Nation in Europe

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, until 7 July

An exhibition of photographic works by 50 women artists investigating— and defying—how nationalism, colonialism and patriarchal structures shape everyday life.

The Museum for Women Artists Berlin

A symbolic rededication of the Berlin Modern, currently under construction, as the Museum of Female Artists Berlin (MdKB). Founded in 2019, the Fair Share! campaign has sought to address the invisibility German institutions afford to women who account for just 1.5% of the Alte Nationalgalerie’s collection and 19% at the Hamburger Kunsthalle’s.

International Women’s Day festival, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, US

The MdKB dream in Germany models itself on this east-coast institution, founded in 1981 as the first in the world dedicated solely to championing female artists. Today’s packed programme features talks and exhibitions, with a keynote lecture (online and in person) by the art historian Ferren Gipson. By its very existence, though, the institution shows that women are not to be celebrated on one calendar day only.

Further exhibitions to pay attention to include Annie Ernaux at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie and Vera Molnár at the Centre Pompidou, both in Paris; the Museum of Modern Art’s virtual exhibition, Surrealist Women; Barbara Kruger at the Serpentine, London. Tate Modern, meanwhile, is inviting art lovers to boost Wikipedia content by telling more women artists’ stories. instructions on how to get involved here.

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