Between May and June of 1951, in a building slated for demolition, more than 70 artists collectively known as The New York School participated in an exhibition that spanned two floors of 60 East 9th Street in Lower Manhattan. While the show included work from artists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock (and would play a role in elevating the profiles of those painters), women were participating in the exhibit, too. But unlike their male contemporaries, they don’t have anything even remotely resembling a starring role in helping define the Abstract Expressionist movement.
My friend Frank Tagariello—a New York City photographer and creative director—interviewed bestselling author Mary Gabriel about her new book on the subject, Ninth Street Women (excerpt).
During the interview, Gabriel talks about the critical importance of establishing a body of scholarship on these artists:
“Traditionally, women aren’t considered the primary artists. Women can’t be geniuses. In the ’40s and the early ’50s, supporting each other, this group didn’t really ever even consider gender. But after collectors and galleries got involved, that old ‘gender versus genius’ became a formula again and the men were the ones who were embraced and heralded.
For women to remain part of history, the scholarship has to be there. Art history courses have to teach them and books have to be written about them and galleries have to show them. When galleries stopped showing these women, critics stopped writing about them, museums stopped collecting them. They just drifted away. That was it. It’s a tragedy. The result is that we have a history half told of that period.”
Read the whole feature at Brunswick Review, and see Kathryn Watson’s review of the book at Hyperallergic.