Well into the 20th century, the role of women in the American art scene, in fact in the art of most countries, was all-too-often limited to being a subject, rather than creator. Female artists were often silenced and restricted, the cleaver among them sometimes resorting to a male or gender-free nom de plume to cloak their identity. If they insisted on being an artist, the boundaries were explicit: stick to socially acceptable compositions of women, children and landscapes. The more maverick women artists fought an open battle to gain acceptance in this male dominated club.
World War II offered a turning point and an opening. The need for able-bodied man outstripped supply, and women were suddenly thrust into what were previously deemed “improper” occupations, like riveter, spy, supply pilot, and artist. These women still shouldered their attendant duties as a housewife, mother, partner, caregiver and--if married to an artist-- advocate for their husband’s art. Yet against all odds, many made strong, soulful and innovative contributions to the mid-20th century art scene. With so little opportunity for market exposure, the work of many of these extremely talented female modernists could have gone unnoticed.
Against All Odds: The Female Voice of Modernism explores the contributions by some of these extraordinary women who overcame those barriers and left a valuable artistic legacy. Some are well-known, others not, but in the work of both are hidden gems.