Last week I had the opportunity view the Picasso and Modern Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in San Francisco. The show offers an interesting and unique perspective of how Picasso’s innovative approach to painting and collage (the exhibition emphasized these mediums although he also worked in three-dimensions). I highly recommend the exhibition to Art Appreciation students as well as students of modern/contemporary art history…good stuff!

However, as a feminist art historian interested in excavating the contributions of women artists who have been marginalized, ignored or forgotten, I’d like to encourage viewers of the show and readers of this blog to consider another perspective. The major American artists who have works included in the show include Max Weber, Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, David Smith, Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, and Roy Lichtenstein. As a viewer in the show, I found myself wanting to tap viewers on the shoulder and ask, “Did you know many of these ‘male geniuses’ also had wives who were actively painting in the same circle of artists yet are not included here?” Actually, by the end of the exhibition I wanted to stand on a bench and scream it.

After visiting the show, I was surprised to notice that the t-shirts promoting the exhibition on sale in the gift store included the name “Krasner.” Lee Krasner is a woman artist who painted in masculine circles of the New York artworld with the artists noted earlier. She also married Jackson Pollock and, after this event, has had her artwork valued and judged in the shadow of Pollock for much of her life (even after his death in 1956). I found it interesting that “I” did not notice her work on display. Note to future viewers, examine this! Where is her work? How is it displayed in relation to Pollock’s? How big is the selected artwork? How does the label discuss her work? Let me know!!

All in all, GREAT show! Just remember to stay critical and consider different perspectives when viewing any display of artwork. That’s what makes it more fun!

What do you think about the show?

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