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'Half a Picture,' New Exhibit Takes a Feminist Look at Brooklyn Museum's Collection

"Half the Picture" features over 50 artists who created their works in response to social and political events such as the Civil Rights era and the #MeToo movement. Mickalene Thomas "Madame Mama Bush in Black and White.

"Half the Picture" features over 50 artists who created their works in response to social and political events such as the Civil Rights era and the #MeToo movement.

Mickalene Thomas, Madame Mama Bush in Black and White
Mickalene Thomas "Madame Mama Bush in Black and White."
Photo credit: Jonathan Dorado, Brooklyn Museum

***Updated 7/23/18

The Brooklyn Museum is taking a new look at its collection through an intersectional feminist lens.

The new exhibit "Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection" presents both rediscoveries from the museum's collection and new acquisitions, highlighting work created in response to social and political moments such as World I, the Civil Rights Movement and #MeToo. Named after a 1989 Guerrilla Girls poster that declares, "You're seeing less than half the picture without the vision of women artists and artists of color," the exhibit will be on view from August 31, through March 31, 2019.

Renee Cox
Renee Cox "Yo Mama." Photo courtesy of the artist

"The power of the Guerrilla Girls lies in their funny, concise, and biting graphic work, made to rally support and inspire action on behalf of a cause; to combat stereotypes and dominant narratives," explains Catherine Morris, senior curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. "Presenting the equally compelling work of over fifty other artists, Half the Picture explores how artists get the rest of us to pay attention."

A number of recent acquisitions will be on view for the first time, including two works from Beverly Buchanan's best-known series of shack sculptures, and Nona Faustine's "Isabelle, Lefferts House," in which the artist depicts herself in front of the Lefferts homestead, a historic colonial farmhouse built by a family of slaveholders, which still stands in Prospect Park.

Other highlights include Renee Cox's monumental photograph "Yo Mama;" Dara Birnbaum's iconic video Technology/Transformation: "Wonder Woman;" and Wendy Red Star's "Crow Peace Delegation" series, which features historical photographs overlaid with annotations drawing attention to the stereotypes and appropriation of Native Americans by mainstream popular culture.

Wendy Redstar
Wendy Redstar, "Alaxchiiaahush / Many War Achievements / Plenty Coups" from the series 1880 Crow Peace Delegation. Photo credit:

The earliest works in the show, dating from the 1920s, are a group of woodcuts by German artist Käthe Kollwitz, which depict the lives of women and the less fortunate in the aftermath of World War I. Other notable artists included are Vito Acconci, Sue Coe, An-My Lê, Yolanda López, Park McArthur, Zanele Muholi, Dread Scott, Joan Semmel, Lorna Simpson, Kiki Smith, Nancy Spero, Mickalene Thomas, Adejoke Tugbiyele and Taller de Gráfica Popular, among others.

"The exhibition focuses on work that feels both meaningful and relevant in relationship to current politics and conversations about feminism, by artists of varied backgrounds, approaches and intersecting identities," says Carmen Hermo, Sackler assistant curator.

*** This article was updated on 7/23/18. The author featured the wrong image for Renee Cox's "Yo Mamma." This has since been corrected.