Lygia Pape (Brazilian, 1927–2004) at work, 1954
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Celebrating Women Artists at The Met

A look at some past, current, and upcoming Met exhibitions

Thirty years ago, the US Congress established March as Women’s History Month. To honor this annual event, we’re proud to highlight some world-class Met exhibitions featuring outstanding women artists. The following offerings from the Museum’s 2016–2017 cultural calendar showcase some wide-ranging artistic contributions by women, including photography, large-scale installations, painting, fashion design, and more. 

A very well-attended show, Diane Arbus: in the beginning, was among the first to be presented at The Met Breuer, our Museum location devoted to modern and contemporary art. This landmark exhibition explored never-before-seen early photographs by the esteemed artist, made from 1956 to 1962 when she first developed her highly idiosyncratic, distinctive style.

Also at The Met Breuer, Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space is the first major US retrospective of works by Italian painter, sculptor, and installation artist Marisa Merz (born 1926), the sole female protagonist of Italy’s avant-garde Arte Povera movement. Encompassing five decades of work, the exhibition explores Merz’s challenging and evocative body of work and its influences. Through May 7.

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“Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space,” installation view at The Met Breuer

An Artist of Her Time: Y.G. Srimati and the Indian Style is the first retrospective devoted to the Indian artist Y.G. Srimati (1926–2007), who explored themes from Indian religious epic literature and visions of rural culture. Drawn from The Met collection and on view through June 18, the exhibition features 25 watercolor paintings augmented by musical instruments, archival photographs, and performance recordings.


G. Srimati (Indian, 1926–2007), “Rajput Princess,” 1950–52, India (Chennai), watercolor on paper. Lent by Michael Pellettieri, © M. Pellettieri

From March 6 through September 5, an intriguing installation in the American Wing looks at Sara Berman’s Closet. This re-creation presents the modest yet carefully organized closet of Sara Berman (1920–2004), an immigrant from Belarus and mother of the artist Maira Kalman, showcasing the all-white apparel and accessories that Berman kept in precisely folded, tidy stacks in her Greenwich Village apartment.

At The Met Breuer from March 21 through July 23, Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms is the first monographic exhibition in the US devoted to Brazilian artist Lygia Pape (1927–2004), a key figure in Brazilian modern art, shown in our featured image at top. Covering fifty years, the exhibition examines Pape’s extraordinarily rich career—from sculpture, prints, and painting to installation, photography, performance, and film.


Lygia Pape (Brazilian, 1927–2004). Divisor (Divider), 1968. Performance at Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, 1990. Photo by Paula Pape. © Projeto Lygia Pape


Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, born 1942) for Comme des Garçons (Japanese, founded 1969), “Ensemble,” Spring/Summer 2006. Hat by Stephen Jones (British, born 1957)

The brilliant oeuvre of Rei Kawakubo is the subject of The Costume Institute’s spring 2017 exhibition. Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between looks at the Japanese fashion designer’s avant-garde designs and how she revolutionized notions of beauty, good taste, and fashionability. From May 4 through September 4, the show will display about 120 examples of Kawakubo’s singular womenswear for Comme des Garçons, from her first Paris runway show in 1981 to her most recent collection.

We applaud all women in the arts, past and present, and invite you to explore our exhibition-related products here.


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