At the Charles Riva Collection in Brussels, curator Jérômre Neutres has conceived an exhibition of works by seven artists, entitled “SUN WOMEN.” Named for Lee Krasner’s series “The Sun Woman,” the exhibition features a group of artists whose works are, today, known to be part of the women’s emancipation movement of the 20th century.
“I feel totally female. I didn’t compete with men and I don’t want to look like a man!” said Louise Nevelson.
Not to be categorized because of gender, the artists on view—including Krasner, Nevelson, Louise Bourgeoise, Helen Frankenthaler, Eva Hesse, Jacqueline Humphries, and Joan Mitchell—sought to obtain equal acknowledgment as their male counterparts.
Great masters throughout the ages were never referred to as “da Vinci, the male artist,” or “Hemingway, the male writer,” so neither should female creators be referred to as such. Instead of essentializing the work of these women, the exhibition presents them as artists neglected in a scene that has always favored males.
A recurring theme of abstraction runs amongst each artist’s style—something which Eric de Chassey suggests is to be expected, since abstraction is “a liberation, the triumph of artistic freedom as a possibility, unhindered by external references.” By committing to an abstracted practice, these artists were essentially pledging themselves to defying the norms (social, sexual, political, and psychological) of their times, where women were held to standards of domesticated delicacy.
When viewing the featured works (including pieces like Lee Krasner’s Comet (1970) and Joan Mitchell’s 1978 work, Tilleuls), it is the hope that the viewer will begin to see these creators in two separate categories—talented artists and extraordinary women.
This weekend will be the last opportunity to experience the exhibition, which closes on Saturday, June 29.