Throughout history, the art world was predominantly considered the domain of ‘great’ men. As a result, women in the arts have been grossly underrepresented both by institutions and galleries. We are experiencing a seachange in this narrative, and in 2018 female artists are creating some of the most interesting, challenging, and ambitious work in the art world today. Addressing issues from body positivity, sexuality, politics, and protest, here are 6 female artists to watch this fall.
Christina Quarles at BAMPFA:
An exhibition featuring a selection of paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Christina Quarles is on view at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive is on view through November 18th. Working primarily with acrylics, Quarles experiments with emotive, gestural brushwork interposed with patterns and static objects. In her paintings, figures appear in a state of flux or transformation, occupying a world defined by their multiple positions and forms. Largely informed by her own subjective experiences as a queer cisgender black woman, Quarles’ work examines contradictions of identity, appearance, and perspective.
Also on view through September 22nd is Always Brightest Before Tha Dusk, Quarles’ first UK-based exhibition presented by Pilar Corrias.
Etel Adnan at SFMOMA:
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art hosts the museum’s first-ever presentation of work by the 92-year-old Lebanese artist, poet and essayist Etal Ednan. While perhaps best known for her landscape works inspired by her long obsession with Mount Tamalpais, Adnan’s earliest paintings favored pure abstraction, often addressing and protesting against the turmoil of the Vietnam War and Lebanese Civil War. On view through January 6, 2019, the exhibition showcases a selection of new paintings and tapestries that reflect Adnan’s return to abstraction, most specifically color and its compositional possibilities.
Simone Leigh at Luhring Augustine:
On view through October 20th, Simone Leigh’s first solo-exhibition with Luhring Augustine features recent sculptures and a new video work by the artist. Currently a finalist for the Guggenheim Museum’s $100,000 Hugo Boss Prize, Leigh is best known for her ongoing object-based exploration of black female subjectivity and ethnography.
This exhibition features a new body of sculptural work juxaposing the human body with regional architectural tropes from West Africa and the American South. From a 200 BC bronze “Vase and lid in the form of a Nubian boy”, to face jugs produced by enslaved African American potters in South Carolina, Leigh’s new ceramic sculptures seek to confront and reconcile contemporary and historical relationships between the body, architecture, and society.
Liza Lou at Lehmann Maupin:
As the inaugural exhibition of their new Chelsea location, Lehmann Maupin presents Liza Lou: Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds. This exhibition encompasses painting, sculpture, drawing, and video. Named for Luke Howard’s Essay on the Modification of Clouds, the show includes mixed media works like Nimbostratus and The Clouds, a monumental piece composed of 600 cloth pieces, which were hand beaded by the local women employed at her studio in Durban.
Since the 1996 unveiling of her work Kitchen at the New Museum, Lou’s sculptures, installations, and performances have obscured boundaries between art and craft, sculpture and painting. Representing five years of solo labor, the groundbreaking work becames a monument to women whose labor has historically gone unrecognized.
Carmen Herrera at Lisson Gallery:
Estructuras, the first ever large-scale presentation of new and historic work by Carmen Herrera, is on view at Lisson Gallery through October 27th. In the late 1960s, Herrera began the sketches and preparations for her Estructuras (Structures), around the same time that key Minimalist sculptors including Carl Andre, Donald Judd and Barnett Newman were early in their exploration of the medium. Herrera hired a carpenter to help execute these designs; however, upon completion of a group of wooden structures in 1971, the carpenter died, leading Herrera to abandon the project and return to painting. . Representing a rare break in the insistent two dimensionality of her paintings, the exhibition features twelve of these sculpted works, as well as key sketches and drawings.
Toyin Ojih Odutola at Jack Shainman Gallery:
When Legends Die, an exhibition of new work by Toyin Ojih Odutola, is on view at Jack Shainman Gallery through October 27th. The exhibition is part of a larger body of work centered around the UmeEze Amara Clan, a fictional Nigerian family descended from the noble class. Past works by Ojih Odutola have included portraits of family members, their skin marked by whorls of black, brown, and white pencil marks. Conceived in collaboration with Shainman and the late dealer Claude Simard, the show concludes a long-term project by the artist built around notions of cultural heritage, narrative, authenticity and representation.
Other Female Artists to Watch this Fall: