On view at ‘We Wanted a Revolution’ – Jan van Raay (American, born 1942). Faith Ringgold (right) and Michele Wallace (middle) at Art Workers Coalition Protest, Whitney Museum, 1971. Courtesy of Jan van Raay.

The future may be female but women have been making their mark on art history since the beginning of time. This spring, go see a female-centric art exhibit in NYC and the surrounding areas. Check out our selection below of the most interesting current and upcoming exhibitions that feature radical female artists.

‘Sex Painting’ on view at P.P.O.W. as part of the Betty Tompkins exhibition, ‘Virgins.’

Betty Tompkins | Virgins
P.P.O.W. Gallery
535 West 22nd Street, NYC
Through May 6, 2017

P.P.O.W presents Virgins, Betty Tompkins’ first solo exhibition with the gallery. A pioneering, feminist artist, Tompkins is best known for her direct depiction of the female body, sexuality, and sexual desire. The exhibition at P.P.O.W will include paintings never before shown in New York, including her monumental large-scale Fuck Paintings; a new installation of Pussy Paintings and a new series of works on paper.

Tompkins creates paintings, drawings and photographs that often take as their starting point images found in mainstream pornographic magazines, using them to create classically framed, carefully textured works. By subverting a genre typically associated with men and the submission of women, Tompkins reclaims the imagery, positioning the female body as a strong and powerful force. While much of Tompkins’ early work was under appreciated by contemporary art critics, her provocative and complex paintings have recently had a resurgence in recognition, and offer a timely response to the current political climate. Through her work with a subject matter that has often been considered taboo, Tompkins has created a platform to reframe female sexuality, and to powerfully reposition the female body.

María Freire, ‘Untitled,’ 1954. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction
11 West 53rd Street, NYC
April 15 – August 13, 2017

Making Space shines a spotlight on the stunning achievements of women artists between the end of World War II (1945) and the start of the Feminist movement (around 1968). In the postwar era, societal shifts made it possible for larger numbers of women to work professionally as artists, yet their work was often dismissed in the male dominated art world, and few support networks existed for them. Abstraction dominated artistic practice during these years, as many artists working in the aftermath of World War II sought an international language that might transcend national and regional narratives—and for women artists, additionally, those relating to gender.

The exhibition features more than 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints, textiles, and ceramics by some 50 artists. It includes works that range from the boldly gestural canvases of Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Joan Mitchell; the radical geometries by Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Gego; and the reductive abstractions of Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt, and Jo Baer; to the fiber weavings of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney; and the process-oriented sculptures of Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse.

Lorna Simpson, ‘Rodeo Caldonia,’ 1986. Courtesy of the artist.

We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85
Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway, BK
April 21 – September 17, 2017

Focusing on the work of more than forty black women artists from an under recognized generation, We Wanted a Revolution highlights a remarkable group of artists who committed themselves to activism during a period of profound social change marked by the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, the Women’s Movement, the Anti-War Movement, and the Gay Liberation Movement, among others. The groundbreaking exhibition reorients conversations around race, feminism, political action, art production, and art history, writing a broader, bolder story of the multiple feminisms that shaped this period. We Wanted a Revolution features a wide array of work, including conceptual, performance, film, and video art, as well as photography, painting, sculpture, and printmaking, reflecting the aesthetics, politics, cultural priorities, and social imperatives of this period. It begins in the mid-1960s, as younger activists began shifting from the peaceful public disobedience favored by the Civil Rights Movement to the more forceful tactics of the Black Power Movement. It moves through multiple methods of direct action and institutional critique in the 1970s, and concludes with the emergence of a culturally based politics focused on intersecting identities of race, gender, class, and sexuality in the early 1980s.

Artists in the exhibition include Emma Amos, Camille Billops, Kay Brown, Vivian E. Browne, Linda Goode Bryant, Beverly Buchanan, Carole Byard, Elizabeth Catlett, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Ayoka Chenzira, Christine Choy and Susan Robeson, Blondell Cummings, Julie Dash, Pat Davis, Jeff Donaldson, Maren Hassinger, Janet Henry, Virginia Jaramillo, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Lisa Jones, Loïs Mailou Jones, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Carolyn Lawrence, Samella Lewis, Dindga McCannon, Barbara McCullough, Ana Mendieta, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringgold, Alva Rogers , Alison Saar, Betye Saar, Coreen Simpson, Lorna Simpson, Ming Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems. Organized in a general chronology around a key group of movements, collectives, actions, and communities, the exhibition builds a narrative based on significant events in the lives of the artists.

Martha Wilson, ‘Thump,’ 2016. Courtesy of the artist and PPOW Gallery.

The Intersectional Self
The 8th Floor
17 West 17th Street, NYC
Through May 19

The Intersectional Self, an exhibition centered on gender and feminist politics in the age of trans-identity, features the work of artists Janine Antoni, Andrea Bowers, Patty Chang, Abigail DeVille, Ana Mendieta, Catherine Opie, Adrian Piper, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Cindy Sherman, and Martha Wilson. The exhibition both explores how notions of femininity (and alternately, masculinity) have shifted in the context of newly defined gender identities and how family structures have been reimagined and reshaped through relatively recent advances in reproductive medicine and evolving gender roles. Ultimately, The Intersectional Self examines how feminism in its many forms has changed the world as we know it.

A textile collage by Emma Amos, featured in the exhibition ‘Guerilla (And Other) Girls.’

Guerrilla (And Other) Girls: Art/Activism/Attitude
Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum @ Rutgers
71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1248
Through July 30, 2017

Through their use of bold graphics, statistics, and irreverent humor, the Guerrilla Girls have been exposing inequalities within the art world (and the world) with witty posters, performances, and guerrilla tactics since they became active in 1985. Guerilla (And Other) Girls includes a selection of posters donated by a former Guerilla Girl in 2010 to the Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists, which are housed in Rutgers University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives, as well as a selection of work by the coalition of women who were aligned with the group. Artists in the exhibition include: Pat Adams, Emma Amos, Ida Applebroog, Jackie Ferrara, Bonnie Lucas, Howardena Pindell, Joan Semmel, and Joan Snyder.

She Inspires
The Untitled Space
45 Lispenard Street Unit 1W, NYC
May 2 – 14, 2017

The Untitled Space will be presenting exhibit, She Inspires, a group show curated by The Untitled Magazine’s editor-in-chief Indira Cesarine. In the divisive and challenging era we are currently experiencing filled with political turmoil, protest and uncertainty, it is important to reflect on those that inspire us. The exhibition,”She Inspires” will present artworks of many mediums, revolving around inspirational women that have made a positive impact on the world. Each work will be an ode to a woman or group of women that has shaped our past, present and/or will help form our future. The exhibit aims to not only explore themes of inspiration of present day female role models, but also the legacy of women who have paved the way, and to inspire and empower others with visual art on the subject. Watch this space for She Inspires updates!

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