Women Artists in Focus:
5 to See this Season

The National Museum of Women in Arts (NMWA) is the world’s first major establishment solely dedicated to championing women artists. On their website, the museum educates audiences about gender inequity in the arts by presenting some eye-opening facts. Regarding cultural institutions: “Only 13.7% of living artists represented by galleries in Europe and North America are women.” Another statistic about the Art Market states that: “There are no women in the top 0.03% of the auction market, where 41% of the profit is concentrated. Overall, 96% of artworks sold at auction are by male artists.” This data is evidence that women have been systematically underrepresented and undervalued in the art world. Correcting this bias will take an immense global effort – starting with the inclusion of more exhibitions by women in museums and galleries. The following list comprises shows from this season that shed light on gender roles and display projects created by women.

RE/SISTERS: A Lens on Gender and Ecology | Barbican, London | Until 14 January

RE/SISTERS brings together photography, film and installations by a wide selection of international women and gender non-conforming artists. These multimedia works are all united by an urgent engagement with, and protest against, the ongoing ecological crisis. With marginalised communities often placed at the forefront of advocating for the planet, the exhibition offers a depiction of nature that explicitly opposes the patriarchal order, the exploitation of natural resources and the oppression of “othered” bodies. The show introduces artists to the likes of Agnes Denes (b. 1931), Barbara Kruger (b. 1945), Gauri Gill (b. 1970), Judy Chicago (b. 1984) and Poulomi Basu (b. 1983). These creative figures shed light on the indivisible bond between environmental and social justice, offering a vision of an equitable society wherein people and planet alike are venerated and treated fairly. The thematic divisions of the demonstration include: the politics of extraction; acts of protest and resistance; the labour of ecological care; environmental racism; and queerness and fluidity in the face of rigid social structures and hierarchies.

Shirin Neshat: The Fury | Fotografiska Stockholm | Until 18 February

Shirin Neshat (b. 1957) is an Iranian-born artist and filmmaker whose extensive work focuses on problematic representations of women in society. Her projects draw attention to how female bodies continue to be a contested site of sin, shame, desire, oppression and politics, but also of rebellion, power and protest. The Fury is Neshat’s debut exhibition at Fotografiska Stockholm and it introduces a broad selection of new works. On display are video installations and a series of black and white photographs alongside poems by the Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad (1934-1967), calligraphed by hand. The exhibition is centred around women depicted as both a source of power and as a battlefield for ideology. Nude portraits of various subjects convey a sense of beauty, dignity, confidence, and pride, but also pain, vulnerability, and trauma. Neshat’s multidimensional pieces question and draw attention to the relationship between the masculine and the feminine, the individual and the collective and address issues wrought by patriarchal power structures. 

The Sky’s the Limit | National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D. C. | Until 25 February

Following an extensive renovation of the building that lasted two years, the National Museum of Women in the Arts reopened in October. The Sky’s the Limit is an expansive reinstallation of the collection, showcasing monumental sculptures and immersive installations by 13 international and US-based artists. “Presented in our transformed space, the artworks convey an energy and dynamism that dovetails with the urgency of the museum’s mission to oppose historic and contemporary gender inequality,” says Kathryn Wat, chief Curator of NMWA. “The pieces reach out to directly engage audiences and evoke a precariousness that is exciting.” Some highlights from the show include the works of Beatriz Milhazes (b. 1960), Cornelia Parker (b. 1956), Joana Vasconcelos (b. 1971) and Sonya Clark (b. 1967). These pieces incorporate objects, including silver-plated vessels, T-shirts, wooden spools, hair combs, faux flowers, glass bottles, parasols and a wooden rhinoceros, each imbued with social and cultural associations that the artists recontextualise.

Inside Other Spaces | Haus Der Kunst, Munich | Until 10 March

“Environmental” art is situated at the threshold between art, architecture and design. In 1949, Argentinian painter and sculptor Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) used the term to describe a new type of artwork that actively involved and surrounded its audience. During the second half of the 20th century, these projects became increasingly popular in the international art world. But the general narrative focuses almost exclusively on the works of male artists. Inside Other Spaces is the first show of its kind – the show was put together after three years of research to readdress the underrepresentation of female artists in the genre. The display presents full-scale reconstructions and documentation of 12 key works by creatives such as Aleksandra Kasuba (1923-2019), Faith Wilding (b. 1943), Tania Mouraud (b. 1942) and Lygia Clark (1920-1988). By presenting a multigenerational survey of artists from Asia, Europe, North and South America, the exhibition aims to reframe the accepted canon and declare women’s fundamental role in the development of immersive art, which has gone on to have a lasting impact on visual culture.

Women in Revolt! | Tate Britain, London | Until 24 April

Tate Britain’s Women in Revolt! is a landmark exhibition that presents an overall view of feminist art in the UK from 1970 to 1990. The museum survey explores how interconnected networks of women used radical ideas and rebellious methods to make an invaluable contribution to British culture. Painting, drawing, photography, textiles, printmaking, film, sculpture, and archival materials are brought together to map a landscape of creative practice forged against a backdrop of extreme social, economic, and political change. As well as bringing the work of artists such as Margaret Harrison (b. 1940), Linder (b. 1954), Sonia Boyce (b. 1962) and Susan Hiller (1940-2019), the show provides a platform for any women who were largely left outside the artistic narratives of the time. The chronological display begins with the first women’s liberation conference in the UK (1970), whereas the following section introduces the dramatic evolution of the relationship between women, work,and the domestic environment of the late 1970s. The exhibition continues with the examination of the Punk movement and the impact of community gatherings such as BLK Art Group (1979), before concluding with projects completed in the Thatcher administration.

Words: Fruzsina Vida

Image credits:

1. Flavia from The Fury series, 2023 © Shirin Neshat

2. Judy Chicago, Immolation from Women and Smoke, 1972 Fireworks performance Performed by Faith Wilding in the California Desert © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo courtesy of Through the Flower Archives Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco

3. Flavia from The Fury series, 2023 © Shirin Neshat

4. Cornelia Parker, Thirty Pieces of Silver (exhaled) Sugar Bowl, 2003; Thirty silver-plated items crushed by 250-ton industrial press, and metal wire, dimensions variable; Gift of the UK Friends of NMWA; © Cornelia Parker; Image courtesy of Compton Verney; Photographer: Jamie Woodley

5.AleksandraKasuba,Spectral Passage(1975).Installation view, M. H. DeYoung Memorial Museum, San Francisco© Digital Archive of Aleksandra Kasuba, the Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Estate of Aleksandra Kasuba

6.Dr Jill Westwood,Potent-Female,1983.© Dr Jill Westwood