Best known for his realist nude portraits, Philip Pearlstein created this portrait of feminist curator, critic, and art historian Linda Nochlin and her second husband, Richard Pommer, to commemorate the couple’s wedding. Here, Pearlstein challenged the conventions of traditional wedding portraiture meant to celebrate the joyousness of a new marriage. He places Nochlin in the foreground, rather than next to her husband, and depicts the newlyweds as casual to the point of lethargy, their attention drawn away from the viewer and one another. Pearlstein’s critique of art historical conventions, and his foregrounding of the female member of the wedded couple, was appreciated by Nochlin, whose groundbreaking scholarship reshaped the practice of art history and curating.
Nochlin had a lifelong relationship with the Brooklyn Museum, beginning with childhood visits. Later, she co-curated Women Artists: 1550–1950 (1977), with Ann Sutherland, and Global Feminisms (2007), with Maura Reilly, the first exhibition mounted in the Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. In 2012, Nochlin was awarded a Sackler Center First Award for her long-standing commitment to feminist art historical practice. Following Nochlin’s death, in 2017, her family gifted this painting to the Sackler Center collection.
The iconic feminist Guerrilla Girls collective has long been at the front lines of conversations about oppression and exclusion, fearlessly and hilariously tackling sexism and racism in the arts since their founding in 1985. This selection of posters—originally designed to be wheat-pasted in highly visible areas of New York frequented by the art world—is part of a gift of more than 50 posters from Guerrilla Girls BroadBand, Inc., to the Brooklyn Museum. Guerrilla Girls BroadBand, Inc., is the post-Internet iteration of the original anonymous, statistics-backed activist art project.
Betty Tompkins’s recent series isolates apologia—statements justifying one’s actions—by men accused of sexual harassment or assault, and superimposes them upon masterworks of the Western canon torn from art history books. In Apologia (Artemisia Gentileschi #4), an excerpt from Knight Landesman’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct (in his role as publisher of Artforum) partially obscures a reproduction of Susanna and the Elders (1610), by the Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–ca. 1652/3). Gentileschi was raped by an older artist her father had hired to be her painting tutor. By juxtaposing Landesman’s words with Gentileschi’s painting, which portrays the biblical story in which two male elders attempt to blackmail Susanna into sex, Tompkins alludes to the historical legacy of both the depiction and perpetuation of sexual violence in art.
Gentileschi is represented by a place setting in Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party (1974–79), the centerpiece of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
In a series of self-portraits taken at various New York City locations, Nona Faustine confronts the viewer, taking possession of sites where enslaved African Americans lived, or where they were sold or buried, such as at the Lefferts House homestead in Brooklyn. Located a short distance south of the Brooklyn Museum in present-day Prospect Park, the Lefferts House and surrounding property were owned by a wealthy Dutch family whose fortune was sustained by slave labor. By positioning her partially naked body at these locations—which too easily appear benign today—Faustine demands recognition of the history of slavery in the United States, and our ongoing reckoning with its legacies.
From 1936 to 1968, Corita Kent was a nun, educator, and administrator for the Roman Catholic order of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles. Considered by others in her order to be a “modern nun,” Kent demonstrated her commitment to populism and social consciousness by using a medium—screenprinting—that ensured that her messages were widely accessible. Much of her work juxtaposes the sacred and the secular, for instance combining Beatles lyrics and anti–Vietnam War sentiment with references to spirituality and prayer.
Dread Scott has described his artistic practice as “revolutionary art to propel history forward.” During the performance of On the Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide, the artist is repeatedly pushed backward as he attempts to walk, arms up, directly into the pressurized jet of a fire hose. Fire hoses were used by police to dispel and suppress peaceful anti-segregation protesters during the 1963 Civil Rights campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. More recently, sports figures and demonstrators used the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture to represent the continuing struggle for racial justice. In his performance, Scott refers to these events in order to commemorate those who have participated in the task of dismantling white supremacy in the United States.
Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection
August 23, 2018–March 31, 2019
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, 4th Floor
Featuring more than 100 works from our collection, Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection explores a wide range of art-making, focusing on enduring political subjects—encompassing gender, race, and class—that remain relevant today. The exhibition’s intersectional feminist framework highlights artworks, in a plurality of voices, that aim to rally support or motivate action on behalf of a cause, or to combat stereotypes and dominant narratives. (This exhibition contains sexually explicit content. Viewer discretion is advised.)
Half the Picture draws its title from a 1989 Guerrilla Girls poster that declares, “You’re seeing less than half the picture without the vision of women artists and artists of color.” Spanning almost one hundred years, the exhibition focuses on historical and contemporary work by more than fifty artists who combine message and medium to engage with political and social issues. Often radical and inspiring, these artists advocate for their communities, their beliefs, and their hopes for equality amid popular or state-supported opposition.
The exhibition showcases pointed artworks by Vito Acconci, Beverly Buchanan, Sue Coe, Renee Cox, Nona Faustine, Harmony Hammond, the Guerrilla Girls, Käthe Kollwitz, An-My Lê, Yolanda López, Park McArthur, Zanele Muholi, Philip Pearlstein, Wendy Red Star, Joan Semmel, Dread Scott, Nancy Spero, Betty Tompkins, Andy Warhol, the Artists’ Poster Committee of Art Workers Coalition, and Taller de Gráfica Popular, among many others.
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.