Women and Abstraction: 1741-Now offers a nuanced and expansive
history of the development of abstraction in America, going beyond the traditional art historical
narrative of this movement. The exhibition looks at how women from the 18th century to the present
day have deployed the visual language and universal formal concerns of abstraction—color, line, shape,
contrast, pattern, and texture—working across a wide variety of media, including painting, textiles,
sculpture, photography, drawing, and ceramics.
Drawn almost exclusively from the Addison’s permanent collection, the exhibition features pieces
ranging from colonial bed rugs and contemporary textile works by Sheila Hicks, to 19th-century Ojibwe
beaded bandolier bags and a 2014 sculpture by Lynda Benglis, combining recognizable masterworks by
leading abstractionists with work by historically overlooked women artists and makers, as well as
objects that have historically been denied the status of fine art. Featured are pieces by Bernice Abbott, Candida Alvarez, Ruth Asawa, Margaret Bourke-White, Petah Coyne, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen
Gallagher, Libbie Mark, Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Betty Parsons,
Rosamond Purcell, Deborah Remington, Anne Ryan, Hedda Sterne, Toshiko Takaezu, Alma Thomas,
Dominique Toya, Penelope Umbrico, and others.
Allison Kemmerer, the Mary Stripp and R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison Gallery of American
Art said, “Women and Abstraction is a quintessential expression of the Addison’s mission: to offer new
insights on American art while expanding the art historical canon. Eschewing traditional chronology,
hierarchies of medium, and the restrictive definitions of art movements, it encourages us to rethink our
preconceived ideas and opens new ways of seeing the art of this country.”
Gordon Wilkins, the Addison’s Robert M. Walker Curator of American Art and curator of Women and
Abstraction noted, “The important work done over the past decades to illuminate the contributions of
historically marginalized women has largely concentrated on white painters associated with the
postwar, 20th-century New York school’s abstract expressionism. While Helen Frankenthaler, Lee
Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and others among their contemporaries have rightfully been ensconced in the
pantheon of great American abstract artists, the works of many more women—from all periods—
remain unexamined by scholars and museums alike. This exhibition proposes a different way of looking
at abstraction in American art, inviting visitors to draw aesthetic connections across seemingly disparate
objects and complicating ingrained notions of what abstraction is and is not.”
Tuesday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed on Mondays, national holidays, December 24, and during the month of August.
Admission to all exhibitions is free.