52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone celebrates the fifty-first anniversary of the historic exhibition Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists, curated by Lucy R. Lippard and presented at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 1971. 52 Artists will showcase work by the artists included in the original 1971 exhibition, alongside a new roster of twenty-six female identifying or nonbinary emerging artists, tracking the evolution of feminist art practices over the past five decades. 52 Artists will encompass the entirety of the Museum (approx. 8,000 sq. ft)—the first exhibition to do so in The Aldrich’s new building which was inaugurated in 2004.
The artists whose work was presented in the original 1971 exhibition are: Cecile Abish (b. 1926), Alice Aycock (b. 1946), Cynthia Carlson (b. 1942), Sue Ann Childress* (b. 1947), Glorianna Davenport* (b. 1944), Susan Hall (b. 1943), Mary Heilmann (b. 1940), Audrey Hemenway (1930-2008), Laurace James (b. 1936), Mablen Jones (1943-2021), Carol Kinne (1942-2016), Christine Kozlov (1945-2005), Brenda Miller (b. 1941), Mary Miss (b. 1944), Dona Nelson (b. 1947), Louise Parks* (b. 1944), Shirley Pettibone (1936-2011), Howardena Pindell (b. 1943), Adrian Piper (b. 1948), Sylvia Plimack Mangold (b. 1938), Reeva Potoff (b. 1941), Paula Tavins (1936-2019), Merrill Wagner (b. 1935), Grace Bakst Wapner (b. 1934), Jackie Winsor (b. 1941), and Barbara Zucker (b. 1940). All but three of the original twenty-six artists will have work included in 52 Artists. (*These artists are not participating.)
The new generation of artists included in the exhibition are: Leilah Babirye (b. 1985), Phoebe Berglund (b. 1980), LaKela Brown (b. 1982), Lea Cetera (b. 1983), Susan Chen (b. 1992), Pamela Council (b. 1986), Lizania Cruz (b. 1983), Florencia Escudero (b. 1987), Alanna Fields (b. 1990), Emilie L. Gossiaux (b. 1989), Ilana Harris-Babou (b. 1991), Loie Hollowell (b. 1983), Maryam Hoseini (b. 1988), Hannah Levy (b. 1991), Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski (b. 1985), Catalina Ouyang (b. 1993), Anna Park (b. 1996), Erin M. Riley (b. 1985), LJ Roberts (b. 1980), Aya Rodriguez-Izumi (b. 1986), Aliza Shvarts (b. 1986), Astrid Terrazas (b. 1996), Tourmaline (b. 1983), Rachel Eulena Williams (b. 1991), Kiyan Williams (b. 1991), and Stella Zhong (b. 1993).
The twenty-six emerging artists were born in or after 1980, live and work in New York City, and will have not had a major solo museum exhibition in the United States as of March 1, 2022, aligning both with The Aldrich’s mission of representing the work of emerging artists and with Lippard’s original mandate for the 1971 exhibition. "This group of 26 emerging artists reflect the revolutionary advancement of feminist art practices over half a century and exhibit a diversity of experiences and a multiplicity of sensibilities united by a twenty-first century feminist expression that is inclusive, expansive, elastic, and free," said The Aldrich’s Chief Curator Amy Smith-Stewart, who curated the contemporary selection.
On view at The Aldrich from April 18 to June 13, 1971, Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists was organized by writer, art critic, activist, and curator Lucy R. Lippard. She viewed curating this landmark exhibition as an activist gesture. In its catalogue, she states: “I took on this show because I knew there were many women artists whose work was as good or better than that currently being shown, but who, because of the prevailingly discriminatory policies of most galleries and museums, can rarely get anyone to visit their studios or take them as seriously as their male counterparts.” With this exhibition, Lippard arguably founded feminist curatorial practice in this country.
52 Artists will survey this landmark exhibition, including works of art from the original exhibition and recreations of some of the more ephemeral pieces, and, if neither are available, related works from the same period. The exhibition will also include recent works by many of the original artists showing how their practices have evolved over the past fifty years. 52 Artists will also debut a commensurate group of twenty-six emerging artists living and working in New York City. By showing the original group alongside emerging artists of today, the exhibition will testify both to the historic impact of Lippard’s milestone exhibition and to the influence of her work, and the work of the original twenty-six artists she presented at The Aldrich, on a new generation of feminist artists.
Lippard’s original 1971 exhibition at The Aldrich was one of the first institutional responses to the issue of women artists’ invisibility in museums and galleries. More specifically, the show offered a rejoinder to the protests by the Ad Hoc Women Artists Committee (founded by Poppy Johnson, Brenda Miller, Faith Ringgold, and Lucy Lippard) over the absence of women in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1970 Sculpture Annual. Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists opened the floodgates to a host of other feminist exhibitions throughout the 1970s, signaling Lippard’s emergence as a visionary feminist curator and critic and marking the debut of many groundbreaking artists. 52 Artists not only celebrates this radical exhibition but underscores its ongoing influence on future generations of artists.
The exhibition is organized by The Aldrich’s Chief Curator Amy Smith-Stewart, who selected the emerging twenty-six artists, and independent curator Alexandra Schwartz, with The Aldrich’s Curatorial and Publications Manager Caitlin Monachino.
A 180-page hardcover book, co-published with Gregory R. Miller & Co., will accompany the exhibition. This significant catalogue will include new essays by Lippard, Smith-Stewart, and Schwartz, as well as rare historical documentation of the original exhibition, images, installation views, and checklists from both the 1971 and 2022 shows.
Hotline is an artwork that takes the form of a telephone hotline where participants can navigate a "choose-your-own-adventure" narrative. To participate, call (866) 696-0940. To listen to messages left by past participants, click here.
Aliza Shvarts (b. 1986, Santa Monica, CA)
24-hour toll-free hotline
Courtesy of the artist
October is an abstract dance built on repetitive formal structures inspired by the work 4 Into 3 by Cecile Abish, included in the current exhibition 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone. Choreographed and performed by Phoebe Berglund in collaboration with dancers Elanor Bock, Emily Kessler, and Jade Manns. Music by Celia Hollander.
October was performed live in the Museum’s Sculpture Garden on Saturday, October 22, 2022 starting at 5 pm and continuing through dusk.
Phoebe Berglund is an American choreographer based in NYC making dances for museums, theaters, and outdoor sites. Her work is included in 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone.
Celia Hollander is a Los Angeles-based composer working with audio, scores, performance, installation, and text. Her work critically engages ways that audio and the act of listening can shape temporal perception and question cultural infrastructures.
On Saturday, June 4, 2022, Adrian Piper’s performance Whistleblower Catalysis (1971) was restaged at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum at the exhibition opening for 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone. This was the first time it has been performed since its debut at the Museum’s 1971 exhibition Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists, curated by Lucy R. Lippard. The recent performance at The Aldrich included six performers dressed to blend in with the attendees of the exhibition opening who moved within the gallery spaces and outside to the Museum’s front terrace, blowing artist-selected whistles with each breath. The first written documentation of Piper’s Catalysis series was published by the artist in the exhibition catalogue for Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists. Read the full press release here.
Major support for 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Generous support is provided by the Diana Bowes and Jim Torrey Commissions Fund, the Girlfriend Fund, Richard Mumby, the National Endowment for the Arts, The O'Grady Foundation, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Wagner Foundation, and Friends of 52 Artists members: Melinda and Brian Carroll, Ellen and Andrew Celli, Eric Diefenbach and James-Keith Brown, Linda and Michael Dugan, Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation, The Evelyn Toll Family Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Rachel and Peter Goulding, Agnes Gund, Pamela and David Hornik, Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia, Sacha Janke and Andrew McCormack, The Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation, Kristina and Philip Larson, Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, Elena Shulman, and Talbott and Carter Simonds Foundation.
Additional support is provided by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, Bernard Lumpkin and Carmine Boccuzzi, and Lisa Roumell and Mark Rosenthal.
The catalogue for 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone is generously supported by the Eric Diefenbach and James-Keith Brown Publications Fund and the Girlfriend Fund.
Top image: 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone (installation view), The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, June 6, 2022 to January 8, 2023. Photo: Jason Mandella