Tate has revealed that five large-scale solo exhibitions for women artists are currently in development, all of which will open during the 2020–2021 season. The announcement comes perfectly-timed for the beginning of Women’s History Month and the launched of the #5WomenArtists campaign by Washington DC’s National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Artists selected for exhibitions include Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Paula Rego, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Maria Bartuszová, and Haegue Yang.
Tate Britain will begin its programming in May 2020 with the first major survey of Yiadom-Boakye’s work. The British-Ghanaian artist was nominated for the 2013 Turner Prize and is known for her psychological approach to Black portraiture. Reviewing a Yiadom-Boakye exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery earlier this year for Hyperallergic, critic Louis Bury called the artist’s work “sensuous and smart.” Comparisons between her and vaunted Old Masters have also been argued.
That exhibition will be followed at Tate Britain with a 2021 career retrospective for Rego, an artist whose work was recently seen in the galleries 2018 exhibition, All Too Human. Somehow predicting the future, Hyperallergic critic Olivia McEwen noted in her review of that show that Rego is “criminally under-exposed” and that “her highly linear, narrative-driven renderings of fantastical scenes — though hauntingly captivating — belong in another exhibition.” The artist will soon get that chance.
Miles away at Tate Modern, the gallery’s 2020 program will begin with Abakanowicz’s massive textile sculptures. Although she died in 2017, the fiber artist is still considered one of Poland’s most acclaimed visionaries. She is likely best-known for her gory, humanoid forms that envisage a spectral armada of ghosts. Tate’s exhibition will undoubtedly be spooky, and seems poised to close toward the end of October, just in time for Halloween. Reviewing Abakanowicz’s work back in 2017, Hyperallergic editor-in-chief Hrag Vartanian noted that her “figures, even when they’re produced as part of a forest of forms, appear lonely and isolated.”
Come November of that year, Tate Modern will give space to Bartuszová’s naturalistic plaster works. The Slovakian artist uses plaster to create naturalistic forms and perforated, egg-like crucibles on a large scale. In 2014, she received a major monographic exhibition called Provisional Forms at Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art. The artist, who died in 1996, flew under the radar until around 2007 when she received a posthumous exhibition of her work at Documenta 12 in Kassel.
On the southwestern tip of England in Cornwall, Tate St. Ives will present a major exhibition dedicated to the multisensory work of Haegue Yang. The South Korean artist has a history of making unexpected and innovative installations — from Sol Lewitt-inspired chandeliers to a sculptural arrangement of wind turbines, air conditioners, and concrete bricks.
Coinciding with the #5WomenArtists campaign, Tate is also launching two books. The Bigger Picture: Women Who Changed the Art World, written by Sophia Bennett and illustrated by Manjit Thapp, offers young readers an introduction to some renowned women artists. The Art of Feminism, edited by Helena Rickett and written by Lucinda Gosling, Hilary Robinson, and Amy Tobin, traces how feminists have shaped art and visual culture over the past 150 years.
Although news about Tate’s upcoming exhibitions signals good news for those advocating for more women in museums, it doesn’t address the institution’s notorious collecting habits. Writing for The Guardian last year, Helen Gørrill observed:
While Tate appears to have a 30% cap on the collection of female artists, its allocation of annual budget is even worse, with as little as 13% spent on works by female artists in recent years. This perpetuates the dominance of male artists in the collections and suppresses the value of women’s work. It has been proved that Tate’s collections affect the art market — its former director Alan Bowness even wrote a book on the subject.
In her article, Gørrill also notes that Tate “fails to mention gender or equality in its collection policy, seeking only to collect works of art of outstanding quality as well as works of distinctive aesthetic character or importance.”