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May 17, 2012

“Women’s Work” Opens at the National Academy Museum & School

By Ingrid Skjong | Art

“Women’s Work” Opens at the National Academy Museum & School
Mary Cassatt. Tea, c. 1890 / Courtesy National Academy Museum

Showcasing roughly 100 pieces of art by women artists, “Women’s Work,” an exhibit opening at the National Academy Museum & School on May 23, samples a wide range of mediums and messages.

“Each part has its own reason for being,” says Bruce Weber, senior curator of 19th- and 20th-century art. Weber, along with his fellow curators, wanted to present a compelling mix of both popular and lesser-known artists. So while the five-part show highlights an impressive 12-piece set of drypoints by Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt in “Mary Cassatt—Graphic Artist” (a collection that artist/decorator Samuel Colman gave to the museum in 1903), it also showcases artist and activist May Stevens (“May Stevens—the Big Daddy Series”), whose pieces in the ’60s protested the Vietnam War and commented on issues like civil rights. 

The museum’s dedication to women doesn’t stop with the exhibit. The National Academy School has a history of electing women, a commitment that has been particularly strong since the 1980s. “From Protest to Process: Recent Gifts by Women Academicians” furthers the point, displaying 30 gifts to the museum that cover 40 years of printmaking and painting.

Twenty pieces of sculpture and a collection of works by realist painter Colleen Browning round out the show, but the prevailing takeaway is clear: When it comes to art, a woman’s work is (wonderfully) never done. May 23–August 26; 1083 Fifth Ave.; 212-369-4880; nationalacademy.org.