If you walk into your average art museum, chances are the majority of the works hanging on the walls are by male artists.
As a means of balancing their gender representation, however, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) will only be purchasing artworks by female artists for the next year.
Out of the museum’s 95,000 collected works, only 4% are credited to female artists.
Their 2020 Vision initiative—which will not apply to artworks gifted to the museum—will encompass 13 solo exhibitions and seven thematic shows, with additional presentations still being planned.
Highlights include a large-scale transformative commission by Mickalene Thomas, a major monographic survey of Joan Mitchell’s career, an exploration of Candice Breitz’s recent video works, and the reinstallation of several of the museum’s galleries to emphasize the depth and diversity of women’s artistry through time. These presentations will be supported by a wide range of public and scholarly programs that will foster dialogue on women’s contributions to art history and the development of many of the artistic institutions that we know today.
The initiative builds on the BMA’s efforts over the last several years to expand its presentations of women artists and artists of color to more accurately reflect the community in which it lives; to address race and gender diversity gaps within the museum field; and to represent more fully and deeply the spectrum of individuals that have shaped the trajectory of art.
It also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, ratified on August 18th, 1920, which guaranteed women in the U.S. the right to vote.
“The BMA’s 2020 Vision initiative serves to recognize the voices, narratives, and creative innovations of a range of extraordinarily talented women artists,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “The goal for this effort is to rebalance the scales and to acknowledge the ways in which women’s contributions still do not receive the scholarly examination, dialogue, and public acclaim that they deserve. This vision and goal are especially appropriate, given the central role women have played in shaping this museum throughout its history.”
The BMA will begin implementing 2020 Vision this season with a series of thematic exhibitions and a major commission. By Their Creative Force: American Women Modernists will feature works by Elizabeth Catlett, Maria Martinez, Georgia O’Keeffe, and others who contributed to major art movements of the 20th century from Cubism to Abstract Expressionism. Several of these artists—including Simone Brangier Boas, Grace Hartigan, and Amalie Rothschild—were based in Baltimore during their careers. This is followed by the November 24th opening of a large-scale installation by internationally-acclaimed artist Mickalene Thomas.
The BMA has nearly 3,800 works of art by 1,050 women artists and designers. The first painting by a woman artist to enter the museum’s collection was a portrait by Sarah Miriam Peale, considered the first American woman to succeed as a professional artist. It was given to the BMA in 1916, two years after the museum was founded.
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