Five Exciting Exhibitions Focusing on Women Artists

This fall, New York museums are bringing great ways to discover new artists and reconnect with old favorites. Why not focus on women artists? The art world is doing just that. Exhibitions, public installations, and a talk with an icon of feminist art are on the calendar, all to bring attention – often long overdue – to the work and importance of female artists. 

Maya Lin: Ghost Forest
Madison Square Park, through November 14, 2021 

There’s both beauty and irony in the 49 slender Atlantic white cedar trees majestically gathered in this installation by world-renowned artist Maya Lin. People sit under them, rest among them, and often don’t notice that they’re dead. Lin used trunks of trees killed by salt water during Superstorm Sandy to create a ghost forest, as it’s called when whole woodlands expire. It’s a call to action and a place for reflection, and hopefully it will spur a change. As part of the exhibition 1000 young trees have been planted around the five boroughs, to help with the transformation we need. “We could do it tomorrow,” said Lin, in her Ghost Forest documentary, which can be found on Madison Square Park. “We could do it today.”

Etel Adnan: Light’s New Measure 
Guggenheim Museum, October 8 – January 10, 2022

Globally admired, while not as well known here, Etel Adnan, at 96, is having her first major New York museum retrospective. Poet, painter, philosopher and educator, Adnan has much to say, and has spent over 70 years quietly voicing reflections, hopes, and observations based on nature and the human heart. Rather than going to look at pictures, instead, expect a multi-faceted experience through paintings, books, and written words, of a rich, ripe and never more relevant artist.

Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction, 1930–1950
Whitney Museum of American Art, Oct 9, 2021–Mar 2022

The towering figures of American abstraction – Pollock, de Kooning, Motherwell and more – didn’t lift art to new heights on their own. Each of those three was married to a woman artist – Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning and Helen Frankenthaler, respectively. It’s a common story for women artists to be overshadowed. This exhibition highlights 27 groundbreaking women who, through the 1930s, 40s, 50s and beyond, studied, worked, innovated, exhibited, and expanded the boundaries of art alongside male counterparts, while rarely gaining equal recognition.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction
The Museum of Modern Art, November 21–March 12, 2022

Sophie Taeuber-Arp was one of those people who seem to have no end of ideas, no limits on creativity, and no shortage of talents with which to explore them. The Swiss artist and designer was one of the foremost pioneers of abstraction in the 1920s and 30s. She was experimental, peripatetic, and prolific, and her work informed and inspired the Dada artists, including her husband, Jean Arp. The exhibition presents paintings, drawings, graphic designs, puppets, embroideries, sculpture, beadwork, weaving, costumes, and more in the first major survey of her work in this country in 40 years. 

Judy Chicago, Artist Talk 
Brooklyn Museum, September 25th

The Brooklyn Museum is home to America’s only dedicated Center for Feminist Art. At its heart is Judy Chicago’s monumental reconsideration of history, “The Dinner Table.” If you haven’t passed below the entry banners, entered the hushed and darkened space, seen the work celebrating the achievements of 1038 women, and felt its humbling and uplifting power, now is the time to make plans. On September 25th, Chicago, who’s never short on truths to tell, will give a talk, discuss her magnus opus, and speak about her new memoir, “The Flowering: The Autobiography of Judy Chicago.” While at the museum, make sure to see the visiting Obama portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. 

Photo credits:


Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Circle Picture. 1933. Oil on canvas. 29 1/4 × 47 3/16? (74.3 × 119.8 cm). Kunstmuseum Bern. Gift of Marguerite Arp-Hagenbach © Kunstmuseum Bern


Maya Lin (American, b. 1959), Ghost Forest, 2021, Courtesy the artist and Madison Square Park Conservancy, Photo credit: Andy Romer


Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 7 7/8 × 9 7/8 in. (20 × 25 cm). Collection of Karen E. Wagner and David L. Caplan, New York. © Etel Adnan


Lee Krasner (1908-1984), Still Life, 1938. Oil on paper, 19 × 24 3/4 in. (48.3 × 62.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase in honor of Charles Simon, with funds given by his friends from Salomon Brothers on the occasion of his 75th birthday, and with funds from an anonymous donor and the Drawing Committee 90.19. © 2021 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Lines of Summer. 1941 Colored pencil and pencil on paper. 25 9/16 × 19 11/16? (65 × 50 cm). Private collection, on long-term loan to the Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland. Courtesy Aargauer Kunsthaus Aarau, photo Peter Schälchli


 Judy Chicago pictured in front of The Dinner Party. Chicago will be at the Brooklyn Museum to discuss her life and work.

About Mary Gregory (42 Articles)
Mary Gregory is an award-winning art critic and journalist whose work with museums, galleries, and auction houses led her to writing about art for publications like Newsday, Long Island Pulse, Afterimage, Art Week, Our Town, and the Chelsea News. A member of the International Association of Art Critics, she has degrees in both English and art history, and her fiction has been anthologized by the Georgia Museum of Art. ------------------Adel Gorgy's photojournalist work, which focuses specifically on art news and exhibitions, has been widely published in New York area magazines, newspapers and journals both online and in print. His fine art photography has been seen around the world in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries.