Women in Abstraction – Announcements
Curators: Christine Macel, chief curator at the Center Pompidou; Karolina Lewandowska, Curator of Photography and Director of the Warsaw Museum, in collaboration with Lekha Hileman Waitoller, Curator of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Exhibition organized by the Center Pompidou Paris in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Sponsored by: Fundación BBVA
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents Women in abstraction, an exhibition sponsored by the BBVA Foundation which shares a new vision of the history of abstraction from its origins until the 1980s through the works of more than 100 women artists who cover the visual arts, dance, photography , cinema and decorative arts. Through a chronological presentation, the exhibition reveals the process of invisibility that marked the work of these artists and highlights milestones in the history of abstraction, questioning aesthetic canons without defining new ones.
Women in abstraction goes beyond the idea that the history of art is a succession of pioneering practices, and by giving women artists a new place in this history, it proves its complexity and diversity. We see it at the very beginning of the exhibition which opens with an unprecedented foray into the 19th century presenting the rediscovery of Georgiana Houghton’s work of the 1860s, questioning the chronological origins of abstraction by going back to its spiritualist roots. Houghton’s work illustrates “sacred symbolism,” one of the themes explored in the exhibition. The spiritualism in vogue in the 1850s constitutes a major path towards abstraction. Women were its forerunners in the 19th century: they were the first to invent an abstraction not conceptualized as such, defined as a sacred symbolism drawn from a desire to represent the transcendent.
The exhibition also highlights personalities through mini monographs highlighting artists unfairly eclipsed or rarely shown in Europe. In the catalog that accompanies the exhibition, the specific educational, social and institutional contexts that have surrounded and encouraged or, on the contrary, hindered the recognition of women are highlighted. The exhibition reveals why many female artists did not necessarily seek recognition. He considers the positions of the artists themselves, with all their complexities and paradoxes. Some, like Sonia Delaunay-Terk, take a non-gendered position while others, like Judy Chicago, claim feminine art.
This female version of the story challenges the limitation of the study of abstraction to painting alone, which is one of the reasons why many women have been excluded, given that such a modernist approach rejected the spiritualistic, ornamental and performative dimensions of abstraction. The perspective is also global. The energy of the Parisian scene of the 1950s is underscored by examples of surprising stylistic combinations, with the works of Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair, Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera and Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid. The exhibition also explores the modernities of Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, without forgetting the African-American artists whose multiple voices only enjoyed a certain visibility from the beginning of the years. 1970s to tell their story in several voices and go beyond the Western canon.