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Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection

Brooklyn Museum

August 31, 2018 – March 31, 2019

Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection, installation view, Brooklyn Museum, NY (2018)

Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection, installation view, Brooklyn Museum, NY (2018)

Press Release

Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection
August 31, 2018—March 31, 2019
Brooklyn Museum, New York

The institution's press release follows: 

Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection presents new acquisitions, rediscoveries, and major works from the Brooklyn Museum collection from an intersectional feminist perspective, reflecting on contemporary conversations about feminism and culture. Drawing its title from a 1989 Guerrilla Girls poster declaring “You’re seeing less than half the picture without the vision of women artists and artists of color,” the exhibition expands the definition of feminism beyond a movement to create equity between men and women. The more than fifty artists included here instead represent a plurality of voices advocating for their communities, their beliefs, and their hopes for equality across and between race, class, disability, and gender.

Half the Picture is organized by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, now entering its second decade as the first, and still only, permanent museum space dedicated to feminist art. The exhibition highlights artists whose work commands our attention with direct messages of resistance and protest; questioning the historical narratives of the United States; calling for an understanding of how political realities are embedded in personal experience; exploring sexuality and exploitation in contexts of gendered power dynamics; and rethinking the biases present in art history and visual culture.

Works of art look different at different historical moments, and museums reflect the politics of both their time and history. Museums and their collections are not socially and culturally neutral. Traditionally, art history has operated from the premise that a work of art is static: the artist’s intention bestows a seemingly onetime meaning. Another approach considers that while meaning takes root when an artwork is made, new interpretations also form in the specific moment we look at the work, influenced by individual experience and cultural priorities.

Half the Picture proposes that works of art can have a dialogue across decades, whether by resonating with present-day concerns or shifting our understanding of an artist’s intention. This exhibition reflects current priorities and strategies for examining complex histories. The Brooklyn Museum endeavors to collect the work of a diverse array of artists, with varied backgrounds and approaches, sharing that work with our public and shepherding it into the future.

Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection is organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Senior Curator, and Carmen Hermo, Associate Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.