NEW YORK CITY – “: Women of the Academy, 1826-2003” will examine the role of women in the history of the National Academy of Design and by extension, women’s role over the past two centuries in the American art world at large.
This exhibition, comprising more than 60 paintings, sculptures and works on paper, includes works by Louise Bourgeois, Isabel Bishop, Mary Cassatt, Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning, Susanna Coffey, Miriam Schapiro, Bessie Potter Vonnoh and others. It will be at 1083 Fifth Avenue, June 28-January 4.
A strength of this exhibition is the numerous self-portraits by women artists. In the past, a membership requirement of newly elected Academicians was that all must donate a portrait of themselves to the museum’s permanent collection. This has provided the academy with a rich cross-section of women’s self-portraits, from Cecilia Beaux to Jane Freilicher, and allows viewers new insight into the subject of women and self-representation.
Other subjects include the traditional flower and bird motifs often associated with women’s work, the organic abstractions of Louise Bourgeois, the feminist works of Miriam Schapiro and the environmentally based work of Michelle Stuart – a linear overview of women’s work from the mid-1800s to the present.
Women were admitted membership to the National Academy from the organization’s inception in 1825. By 1831, the academy’s school was open to women, and in 1847, the radical step of offering a life-class for women was taken. At this time in American history most institutions’ support of women was somewhat limited, but the National Academy was an exception.
Today the role of women in the academy continues to grow steadily and 1992 saw the election of the first woman president of the institution, Jane Wilson. In 1997, Dr Annette Blaugrund joined the small but growing number of women museum directors in becoming director of the National Academy. Moreover, women are part of the academy’s Governing Council, the school faculty and serve in many other elevated capacities.
There will be a reception on Wednesday, July 9, 6 to 8 pm. Hours are Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 5 pm; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm. For information, 212-369-4880 or www.nationalacademy.org.