The Aldrich Revisits Its Landmark Feminist Art Exhibition

  • May 23, 2022 21:39

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Merrill Wagner, Untitled, 1969. Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, New York.
Carol Kinne, Cad Yellow, 1965. Collection R. Huot, New Berlin, New York Photo: Edward Hettig
someone will make a Saddle out of your falling hair" by Astrid Terrazas. Courtesy P.P.O.W. New York and the artist. Photo: Stan Narten
Stella Zhong, Every Other Chopped, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Chapter NY.
Merrill Wagner, Inlet, 2010. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York.
Tourmaline, Coral Hairstreak, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Chapter NY, NYC. Photo Dario Lasagni

52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone celebrates the fifty-first anniversary of the historic exhibition Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists, curated by Lucy R. Lippard and presented at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn., in 1971. Opening on June 6, 2022, 52 Artists will showcase work by the artists included in the original 1971 exhibition, alongside a new roster of twenty-six female identifying or nonbinary emerging artists, tracking the evolution of feminist art practices over the past five decades. 

52 Artists will encompass the entirety of the museum (approx. 8,000 sq. ft)—the first exhibition to do so in The Aldrich’s new building which was inaugurated in 2004. The show runs through January 28, 2023.

The new artists, who are all based in New York City, will have not had a major solo museum exhibition in the United States as of March 1, 2022, aligning both with The Aldrich’s mission of representing the work of emerging artists and with
Lippard’s original mandate for the 1971 exhibition. “This group of 26 emerging artists reflect the revolutionary
advancement of feminist art practices over half a century and exhibit a diversity of experiences and a multiplicity of
sensibilities united by a twenty-first century feminist expression that is inclusive, expansive, elastic, and free,” said The Aldrich’s Senior Curator Amy Smith-Stewart, who curated the contemporary selection.

The exhibition is organized by The Aldrich’s Senior Curator Amy Smith-Stewart and independent curator Alexandra Schwartz, with The Aldrich’s Curatorial Assistant Caitlin Monachino.

“52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone is one of our most ambitious exhibitions to date,” said Cybele Maylone, Executive Director of The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. “The exhibition charts the museum’s commitment to emerging and underrepresented artists over time and offers an unparalleled opportunity for vital scholarship about the historic legacy of the 1971 exhibition. We are delighted to bring together this exceptional roster of artists for this timely and important show.”

On view at The Aldrich from April 18 to June 13, 1971, Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists was organized by writer, art critic, activist, and curator Lucy R. Lippard, who viewed curating this landmark exhibition as an activist gesture. In its catalogue, she states: “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.” With this exhibition, Lippard arguably founded feminist curatorial practice in this country.

52 Artists will survey this landmark exhibition, including works of art from the original exhibition and recreations of some of the more ephemeral pieces, and, if neither are available, related works from the same period. The exhibition will also include recent works by many of the original artists, examining how their practices have evolved over the past fifty years. By showing the original group alongside emerging artists of today, the exhibition will testify both to the historic impact of Lippard’s milestone exhibition and the influence of the original twentysix artists she presented at The Aldrich on a new generation of artists.

Lippard’s original 1971 exhibition at The Aldrich was one of the first institutional responses to the issue of women artists’ invisibility in museums and galleries. More specifically, the show offered a rejoinder to the protests by the Ad Hoc Women Artists Committee (founded by Poppy Johnson, Brenda Miller, Faith Ringgold, and Lucy Lippard) over the absence of women in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1970 Sculpture Annual. Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists opened the floodgates to a host of other feminist exhibitions throughout the 1970s, signaling Lippard’s emergence as a visionary feminist curator and critic and marking the debut of many groundbreaking artists. 52 Artists not only celebrates this radical exhibition but underscores its ongoing influence on future generations of artists.

The original 1971 catalogue was designed by architect and scholar Susana Torre. A new, 180-page hardcover book designed by Gretchen Kraus, The Aldrich’s Design Director, and co-published with Gregory R. Miller & Co., will accompany the exhibition. This significant catalogue will include new essays by Lippard, Smith-Stewart, and Schwartz, as well as rare historical documentation of the original exhibition, images, installation views, and checklists from both the 1971 and 2022 shows. 

The artists whose work was presented in the original 1971 exhibition are: 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 (1943-2021), 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), and Barbara Zucker (b. 1940). All but three of the original twenty-six artists will have work included in 52 Artists. (*These artists are not participating.)

“Carnival: Bahia, Brazil, 2017” by Howardena Pindell. Courtesy Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

The new generation of artists included in the exhibition are: 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), 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), Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski (b. 1985), Catalina Ouyang (b. 1993), Anna Park (b. 1996), Erin M. Riley (b. 1985), LJ 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), and Stella Zhong (b. 1993).

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