Major Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum Redefines the Role of Female Pop Artists


BROOKLYN, NEW YORK — The first major exhibition to explore in depth the contributions of female Pop artists, “Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958–1968,” seeks to expand the definition of classic Pop art and re-evaluate the role of the women who worked alongside the movement’s more famous male practitioners. It features more than fifty works by Pop art’s most significant female artists and includes many pieces that have not been shown in nearly forty years. The exhibition will be on view in the Brooklyn Museum‘s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art and in the adjacent fourth-floor Schapiro Wing galleries.

Although radical social changes were taking place in America in the 1960s, the female Pop artists of the time remained largely unacknowledged by the contemporary art critics and academics. Relegated to the margins of history by discrimination, historical precedent, and social expectations, these women were forced to take a back seat to their male counterparts, who became icons of the era. Informed by their personal histories, the work of female Pop artists was often collaborative and incorporated empathetic social commentary.

“Seductive Subversion” includes Marisol’s “John Wayne” sculpture, commissioned by Life magazine for an issue on movies; the French sculptor, painter, and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle’s eight-foot-tall “Black Rosy,” one of her “Nana” sculptures exploring the role of women; Rosalyn Drexler’s oil and acrylic work “Chubby Checker,” inspired by the poster for the movie Twist around the Clock, and “Home Movies,” based on frames from old gangster movies; the Times Square–inspired “Ampersand,” a multilayered, stylized, and illuminated neon ampersand in a Plexiglas cube by Chryssa, one of the first artists to utilize neon in her work; and a seventeen-foot-long triptych by Idelle Weber. Artwork has been loaned by the National Gallery; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.); the Neuberger Museum (Purchase, New York); and major private collectors.

Works from the Brooklyn Museum’s holdings have been added exclusively for the Brooklyn exhibition. They include “Squeeze Me” and “You Can’t Catch Me” by Mara McAfee; “Dear Diana” and “My Love We Won’t” by Niki de Saint Phalle; “Nestle’s Box” by Marjorie Strider; and “Cents Sign Travelling from Broadway to Africa via Guadeloupe” by Chryssa, which will be on display at the Museum for the first time.

Paintings and sculptures by Evelyne Axell, Pauline Boty, Vija Celmins, Dorothy Grebenak, Kay Kurt, Yayoi Kusama, Lee Lozano, Mara McAfee, Barbro Ostlihn, Faith Ringgold, Martha Rosler, Marjorie Strider, Kiki Kogelnik, Marta Minujin, and May Wilson will also be featured.

“Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958–1968” was organized by the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The Brooklyn presentation is coordinated by Catherine Morris, Curator of the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

Image: Yayoi Kusama, “Untitled,” 1963. Sewn stuffed fabric, cooking pot, lid, ladle and paint d.v. Dimensions variable. (Private Collection, New York Courtesy of Peter Freeman, Inc., New York)