Feminist Artists at the Fore

Timely exhibitions in and out of town

| 21 Jul 2022 | 10:06

Feminist artists have the floor this summer, and they have lots to say. In, around, and out of town, take some time to explore their voices in art.

“Barbara Kruger” through August 12, David Zwirner Gallery, 519, 525, and 533 West 19th St.

“Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You” through Jan. 2, 2023, Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd St.

“Your Body is a Battleground” states artist Barbara Kruger, in one of her most famous works, “Untitled (Your body is a battleground).” It was made in 1989, intended as a poster for a Planned Parenthood and NARAL rally, but it later morphed into a stand-alone artwork. It’s been having a revival in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, as women rally and march.

But Kruger is too active and involved an artist to stop at one battleground. Your wallet, your perceptions, your values, your desires, these are all contested spaces she brings to the forefront in words and images that pack power into precise punches. Short statements, simple images usually lifted from old advertisements, and limited colors (mostly black, white and red) confront the viewer with the conceptual artist’s points.

Kruger is the subject of three exhibitions at David Zwirner Galleries on 19th Street and a major installation at the Museum of Modern Art. “Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You” at MoMA wraps the viewer in a sea of texts. Larger than life words in dizzying, complex competition range from the banal to the curious to the profound. The Zwirner shows include video installations, sound art and digital re-conceptualizations of earlier works that combine texts and images, memes and metaphors, all set out to question societal constructs and sources of power – much of it more relevant that when it was made.

“I never say I do political art. Nor do I do feminist art. I’m a woman who’s a feminist, who makes art,” Kruger told Interview magazine in 2013. Now is a great time to get to know her work.

“My Body/My Choice” Annual Postcard Show, A.I.R. Gallery, through July 31, 155 Plymouth St., Brooklyn

A.I.R. Gallery, the first all-female cooperative art gallery in the country, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Many of its members have gone on to show at major museums and top-tier galleries. But, the cooperative space is still all about women artists looking for a place at the table, for parity and for audiences, while working to support other women and non-binary artists.

Every summer, A.I.R. (which stands for Artists In Residence) has a postcard exhibition to raise funds for the gallery’s operation. This year’s exhibition “My Body/My Choice” brings together original, postcard sized works that sell for $45 each. Head over to pick up a pocket-sized powerhouse. You might even score a piece by Susan Unterberg, the philanthropist/artist who founded and funds “Anonymous Was a Woman” a nonprofit which has given millions of dollars in grants to women artists.

“52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone” through January 8, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 258 Main St., Ridgefield, CT

A road trip will get you to “52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone,” a full-museum exhibition of feminist artists at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. It’s a revisiting and reimagining of a groundbreaking exhibition, “Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists” curated by feminist art critic Lucy Lippard, and shown at the museum in 1972.

Twenty-three of the artists in the original show are participating again. Look for early and recent works by Howardena Pindell, Alice Aycock, Mary Heilmann, Adrian Piper, Mary Miss and more, giving a sense of how each artist’s practice has evolved over the past decades. They are joined by a group of twenty-six younger women artists all born after 1980. And, as Lippard’s exhibition aimed to do 50 years ago, the show is intended as a breakout moment, introducing these women to museum audiences.

There are installations, videos, sculptures, paintings, photographs, fiber works and more by New York based emerging women artists like Ilana Harris-Babou, whose work was included in a recent Whitney Biennial; Leilah Babirye, who’s currently featured in the Public Art Fund’s “Black Atlantic” exhibition in Brooklyn Bridge Park; and Pamela Council, whose bright pink “A Fountain for Survivors” eased and elevated Times Square visitors last winter.

“This group of 26 emerging artists reflect the revolutionary advancement of feminist art practices over half a century,” said senior curator, Amy Smith-Stewart, “united by a twenty-first century feminist expression that is inclusive, expansive, elastic, and free.”