Better Half, Better Twelfth: Women Artists in the Collection
Date(s): April 2, 2010 thru July 15, 2011
The exhibition Better Half, Better Twelfth: Women Artists in the Collection, opening April 2, 2010, showcases American women artists from the Sheldon Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The term “better half” historically referred to a wife or lover, acknowledging the significance of an unnamed woman by a man writing or speaking the words. “Better twelfth” refers to the approximate ratio of female to male artists in the Sheldon's collection. The intent of the exhibition is to better acquaint visitors with these artists and to recognize their accomplishments. To see images of some artworks on view, please click:
Better Half, Better Twelfth slideshow
The museum’s year-long focus on women artists also presents an opportunity to identify gaps in the collection. Within the exhibition, some of these are filled with loans from private and corporate collections. Galleries are divided into abstract and representational painting, photography, sculpture, and prints, beginning with a gallery dedicated to pioneer women artists.
Artists who developed long-standing careers in their chosen medium and inspired subsequent generations of women artists include painters Mary Cassatt and Georgia O’Keeffe, sculptors Bessie Potter Vonnoh and Malvina Hoffman, photographers Julia Margaret Cameron, Berenice Abbott, and others.
A gallery for prints includes abstract work by artists Vija Celmins and Pat Steir, feminist figurative work by Nancy Spero, and cross-cultural imagery by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. Containing works by Diane Arbus, Ana Mendieta, Cindy Sherman, and Barbara Kruger, the photography gallery highlights women artists who explore social and gender identity.
The sculpture gallery includes predominately figurative works by artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Anne Truitt, and Louise Nevelson. The representational gallery showcases objects by artists Alice Neel, Hung Liu, and a new acquisition by Lois Mailou Jones. It also features artists including Impressionist painter Jane Peterson and Regionalist painter Isabel Bishop.