In May 2010, The Museum of Modern Art in New York debuted Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography. This overview of photography’s 170-year history, consisting entirely of images by woman artists from the museum’s permanent collection, runs through April 5, 2011.
Curators Sarah Meister, Roxana Marcoci and Eva Respini selected masterworks from 120 artists, including recent acquisitions and works on view for the first time by Helen Levitt, Nan Goldin, Valie Export, Rineke Dijkstra and Judith Joy Ross. Meister notes, “We reinstall the Edward Steichen Photography Galleries with works from the museum collection about once a year, which gives us the opportunity to present different versions of the history
of photography. This installation was intended to coincide with the publication of Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art — a groundbreaking book with over 400 illustrations and 50 essays that cover the museum’s entire collection.” The publication of Modern Women culminates MoMA’s five-year Modern Women’s Project, made possible by the Modern Women’s Fund established by Sarah Peter.
The exhibition is unique in that it focuses not only on photographic works by women, but also primarily on portraits of women. Meister says, “Quite simply, we were intrigued by what pictures of women, by women, suggested about the plasticity of female identity and the photographic medium. It allowed us to group together pictures whose creators had widely varied intentions and used a variety of processes to express them.”
More of this article can be read in the Spring 2011 issue.