Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism

Opens at The Jewish Museum on September 12th

Key Works by Judy Chicago, Eva Hesse, Lee Krasner,
Miriam Schapiro, Nicole Eisenman and Others on View

New York, NY – Feminist challenges to creative and institutional limits have been widely influential in art since the 1960s, with the emergence of the women’s art movement in the United States. The Jewish Museum will present Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism, an exhibition exploring the impact of feminism on contemporary painting, from September 12, 2010 through January 30, 2011. Taking the visitor through a half-century of painting, the exhibition focuses on art at the crossroads of societal shift and individual expression. Shifting the Gaze places feminist art in a larger context exploring its roots in Abstract Expressionism, Pop and Minimalism, and extending to the present, when feminist impulses remain vital in recent works targeting the representation of women in popular culture.

The exhibition examines interactions of the politics and theory of feminism with the practices and styles of painting. Feminist ideas and aesthetics transformed art, opening up the field to the full range of women’s experience, history and material culture. Feminism retains its power to inspire new ideas and challenge old ones, shifting the gaze to unexplored perspectives. It remains an active force in contemporary art today.

Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism, with over 30 paintings and several sculptures and decorative objects, is largely drawn from The Jewish Museum’s collection and also includes select loans. Works by 27 artists such as Judy Chicago, Louise Fishman, Leon Golub, Eva Hesse, Deborah Kass, Lee Krasner, Louise Nevelson, Elaine Reichek, Miriam Schapiro, Joan Snyder, Nancy Spero, and Hannah Wilke, among others, are arranged thematically. Nicole Eisenman will create a painting of a family seder specially for the exhibition. Eight works in Shifting the Gaze have been acquired over the last three years.

Gestural and Abstract Expressionist paintings created at the dawn of feminism in postwar America open the show. Next are mostly self-portraits that demythologize the female body and male representations of it. The third group features embroidery, collage and fan painting as examples of the 1970s art movement, Pattern and Decoration, which sought to reinvigorate previously denigrated women’s work. Politics, the Holocaust and war are then examined through feminist interpretations, followed by the use of writing and text in art. A final section devoted to popular culture and satire closes the show.

Jewish painters have played decisive roles in founding and sustaining major feminist art groups and theories while continuing to develop their own avant-garde art. The selected works reveal Jewish and feminist commitments to both social justice and personal freedom. The works on view are animated by the tensions between individual expression and collective politics, and a traditional medium and radical action.

Shifting the Gaze examines the ways that artists (male and female) challenge discrimination, advocate self-expression and invent new forms of beauty, breathing life into the medium and offering fresh visions of the world. Much of the feminist movement aimed to overcome the male-dominated modes of heroic and formalist painting. To this day, artists inspired by feminism take on taboo subjects and stretch techniques in abstraction, decoration, collage, embroidery and representation.

The exhibition has been organized by Daniel Belasco, Henry J. Leir Assistant Curator at The Jewish Museum. He specializes in postwar and contemporary art and design, and is currently completing a book on feminist consciousness in New School art. Daniel Belasco is also co-curator of SITE Santa Fe’s Eighth International Biennial exhibition (June 2010-January 2011). He holds a PhD and MA from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism is made possible, in part, by the Melva Bucksbaum Fund for Contemporary Art.


As part of the Shifting the Gaze exhibition section on The Jewish Museum’s website (, a list of over 550 woman artists who have been shown in special exhibitions at the Museum since 1947 will be made available.

About The Jewish Museum

Widely admired for its exhibitions and educational programs that inspire people of all backgrounds, The Jewish Museum is the preeminent United States institution exploring the intersection of 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture. The Jewish Museum was established in 1904, when Judge Mayer Sulzberger donated 26 ceremonial art objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary of America as the core of a museum collection. Today, the Museum maintains an important collection of 26,000 objects—paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, archaeological artifacts, ceremonial objects, and broadcast media.

General Information

Museum hours are Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, 11am to 5:45pm; Thursday, 11am to 8pm; and Friday, 11am to 4pm. Museum admission is $12.00 for adults, $10.00 for senior citizens, $7.50 for students, free for children under 12 and Jewish Museum members. Admission is free on Saturdays. For general information on The Jewish Museum, the public may visit the Museum’s website at or call 212.423.3200. The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, Manhattan.

Artists Represented in the Exhibition

Ida Applebroog, American, b. 1929
Judy Chicago, American, b. 1939
Rosalyn Drexler, b. 1926
Nicole Eisenman, American, b. 1965
Louise Fishman, American, b. 1939
Audrey Flack, American, b. 1931
Dana Frankfort, American, b. 1971
Leon Golub, American, 1922-2004
Eva Hesse, American, b. Germany, 1936-1970
Deborah Kass, American, b. 1952
Vivienne Koorland, American, b. South Africa, 1957
Joyce Kozloff, American, b. 1942
Lee Krasner, American, 1908-1984
Robert Kushner, American, b. 1949
Cary Leibowitz, American, b. 1963
Lee Lozano, American, 1930- 1999
Melissa Meyer, American, b. 1947
Louise Nevelson, American, b. Russia, 1899-1988
Elaine Reichek, American, b. 1943
Miriam Schapiro, American, b. Canada, 1923
Mira Schor, American, b. 1950
Dana Schutz, American, b. 1976
Joan Semmel, American, b. 1932
Amy Sillman, American, b. 1954
Joan Snyder, American, b. 1940
Nancy Spero, American, b. 1926
Hannah Wilke, American, 1940-1993

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