Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed US women the right to vote. The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) is celebrating this momentous time in history by showcasing women’s voices, talents through its yearlong programming: 2020 Vision.
The Baltimore Museum of Art will solely feature works of art by women in the coming year. Every piece purchased for the collection will showcase local and world-renowned female artists.
While the BMA has had female representation in their collection since it’s early days (a painting by artist Sarah Miriam Peale), the number is markedly lower than the rest of the collection. Currently, a very small portion of the museum’s holdings of permanent works (approximately only 4%) was created by women.
How this 2020 vision came about? Current Museum Director Christopher Bedford noticed a gap in the representation of female artists and persons of color and began making choices to close said gap. The museum made headlines in 2018 with their decision to selling major acquisitions from artists including Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Franz Kline. The proceeds of these sales were used to fund purchases of works by women and artists of color.
This year’s push is a move to make that representation even stronger with multiple major exhibitions in the works. Bedford tells Parentology this was a necessary move.
“This how you raise awareness and shift the identity of an institution,” Bedford says. “You don’t just purchase one painting by a female artist of color and hang it on the wall next to a painting by Mark Rothko. To rectify centuries of imbalance, you have to do something radical.”
The museum will be closing out 2019 with two female-centric exhibitions. Last month their By Their Creative Force: American Women Modernists exhibition featured 20th-century female-driven and produced art from abstract expressionism to Cubism. A December exhibition entitled Free Form: 20th-Century Studio Craft and Adorned: African Women & the Art of Identity will explore hands-on forms of art such as jewelry, ceramic and embroidery works.
Exhibitions slated for 2020 are due to be in full swing by March. These will explore socio-political topics and human rights issues including the rights of sex workers, motherhood, African art and the life of a migrant. Standing out, too, will be a show about iconic female figures, from the mythic to biblical heroes, witches and femme fatales.
Summer months bring A Perfect Power: Motherhood and African Art, which explores maternal energy from the 19th through the mid-20th centuries. Women Behaving Badly: 400 Years of Power & Protest (the working title) will explore female empowerment and protests present in American and European art. Fall will kick off with an exhibition from American artist Joan Mitchell entitled Joan Mitchell: Fierce Beauty.
General admission to the BMA (open Wednesday through Sunday with some closures on select days) is free, although special exhibits may have costs associated with them.
Baltimore Museum of Art 2020 Vision — Sources
Baltimore Sun: Baltimore Museum of Art will only acquire works from women next year: ‘You have to do something radical’
Baltimore Sun: BMA’s effort to be diverse is good but selling off paintings isn’t