The Art Students League's Female Alumni Go On View

November 13, 2019

Founded in 1875, The Art Students League of New York has been instrumental in shaping America’s legacy in the fine arts. Artists who have studied and taught at the institution, including O'Keeffe, Pollock, Rothko, Nevelson and Ai Weiwei, have been setting the course of the American art for 140 years. Founded by students who broke away from the National Academy of Design, the League continues to cherish that independent spirit even today, allowing their students to pursue their work unconstrained by dogma, politics or burdensome tuition.

In their current exhibition, The Art Students League explores the vital contributions of these alumnae on the international stage, focusing on the female members. Titled Postwar Women, the show seeks to challenge the misperception that great art produced by women artists is somehow an exception rather than the rule.

Elizabeth Catlett - Standing Mother and Child, 1981, Eva Hesse - Mold for Sans II, 1967
Left: Elizabeth Catlett - Standing Mother and Child, 1981. Patinated bronze, 23 x 6 x 5 1/2 in. Courtesy June Kelly Gallery and The Catlett Family Trust / Right: Eva Hesse - Mold for Sans II, 1967. Urethane, 38 x 14 x 6 1/8 in. Private collection. © The Estate of Eva Hesse, Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Tommy Mintz

Women Artists in the Postwar Period

After the second world war, the landscape of art was still dominated by white men. While the societal shifts made it possible for larger numbers of women to work professionally as artists, their work was often dismissed and support networks were scarce. However, these women significantly contributed to the remarkable range of abstract styles that proliferated during this period.

Curated by Will Corwin, the exhibition examines the history of the institution known for democratic ideologies which created artistic opportunities for women of all social classes. It delves into the remarkable artistic practice of these women but also sheds light on the complex networks they formed to support one another and their newfound access to art education.

Merrill Wagner - Untitled, 1965
Merrill Wagner - Untitled, 1965. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 72 in. © Merrill Wagner, Courtesy Zurcher gallery NY/Paris. Photo: Adam Reich

Seminal Artists on View

The show brings together over 40 artists who were active between 1945 and 1965. The display includes some of the most prominent artists of the 20th century, such as Louise Bourgeois and Helen Frankenthaler, but more importantly, it brings to the fore the women who were not credited enough, such as Mavis Pusey, Kazuko Miyamoto, Olga Albizu and Helena Vieira da Silva. In this way, the institution seeks to remind a new generation of visitors and art students of the importance to know their foremothers.

Other artists featured in the show are Berenice Abbott, Mary Abbott, Janice Biala, Isabel Bishop, Nell Blaine, Regina Bogat, Vivian Browne, Elizabeth Catlett, Dorothy Dehner, Elaine de Kooning, Monir Farmanfarmaian, Perle Fine, Judith Godwin, Terry Haass, Grace Hartigan, Carmen Herrera, Eva Hesse, Faith Hubley, Lenore Jaffee, Gwendolyn Knight, Lee Krasner, Blanche Lazzell, Marguerite Louppe, Lenita Manry, Marisol, Mercedes Matter, Louise NevelsonCharlotte ParkJoyce Pensato, Irene Rice Pereira, Faith Ringgold, Edith Schloss, May Stevens, Yvonne Thomas, Lynn Umlauf, Merrill Wagner, Joyce Weinstein and Michael West.

Isabel Bishop - The Conversation, 1931, Kazuko Miyamoto - Hanging Paper Sculpture, 1980-2017
Left: Isabel Bishop - The Conversation, 1931. Oil and tempera on gessoed panel, 15 1/8 x 10 in. Private Collection. Courtesy DC Moore Gallery, New York / Right: Kazuko Miyamoto - Hanging Paper Sculpture, 1980-2017. Brown paper and twigs, 75 x 25 in. © Kazuko Miyamoto, Courtesy Zürcher gallery NY/Paris

Postwar Women at The Art Students League

Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to see works by some of the greatest names in post-war art.

The exhibition Postwar Women will be on view at The Art Students League in New York, at the second floor of the Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery, until December 1, 2019. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Featured image: Isabel Bishop - The Conversation (detail), 1931. Oil and tempera on gessoed panel, 15 1/8 x 10 in. Private Collection. Courtesy DC Moore Gallery, New York.