In 1987, the U.S. Congress designated the month of March as “Women’s History Month,” writing that “American women have played and continue to play a critical economic, cultural, and social role in every sphere of our Nation’s life.” This selection of Met exhibitions from the 2015–2016 cultural calendar highlights the diverse contributions of women, from stitchery to painting to photography.
Objects by gifted yet unsung women are found in abundance in the decorative arts. A pair of related Met exhibitions, Fashion and Virtue: Textile Patterns and the Print Revolution, 1520–1620 and American and European Embroidered Samplers, 1600–1900 (above), showcased the importance of women and girls in the textile arts, which have typically been considered “women’s work.” Our tote pays tribute to their deft handwork.
In the realm of high fashion, Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style examined the originality and elegance of the “best-dressed” French countess (born 1929), one of the twentieth century’s great style arbiters. This captivating crowd-pleaser in the galleries of The Costume Institute displayed sixty dazzling ensembles from her personal archive (below). Shop the best-selling exhibition catalogue here.
The Aftermath of Conflict: Jo Ractliffe’s Photographs of Angola and South Africa exhibited the South African photographer’s (born 1961) images of the consequences of the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002), exposing the pervasive impact of war on both the people and the land (below left).
Now on view, Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France is the first retrospective devoted to the brilliant French portraitist Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (featured image, top), who enjoyed great success during one of the most turbulent periods in European history. The New York Times calls the show a “ravishing, overdue survey.”
Opening to the public on March 18, The Met Breuer will host two inaugural exhibitions. Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible explores the evolving notion of unfinishedness in art; it features works by many acclaimed women artists, including Berthe Morisot, Alice Neel, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and Elizabeth Peyton, to name just a few. Concurrently, Nasreen Mohamedi is the largest exhibition to date dedicated to the Indian modernist (1937–1990), one of the most significant artists of her generation.
In May, the 2016 Roof Garden Commission will debut a site-specific installation by the British artist Cornelia Parker (born 1956), who is celebrated for her provocative large-scale works. Through October, visitors can experience it in the convivial, open-air setting of The Met’s expansive rooftop overlooking Central Park.
We honor all women in the arts, past and present, and invite you to explore our exhibition-related products here.