May Wilson, Ridiculous Portrait (Queen Elizabeth), c.1965-72, collage, 8 1/2” x 10 1/8”. Courtesy of William S. Wilson and Pavel Zoubok Gallery.
History is written by the winners. As Meghan O’Rourke’s recent Slate essay points out, in the literary and cultural worlds, those winners still are — more often than not — men. That’s not because of any native advantage in intelligence or ability, but because of what O’Rourke calls “unconscious gender bias” and our unwillingness to accord “accomplishment and authority” to women as freely as we recognize these qualities in men.
Nevertheless, unequal status notwithstanding, there is more room at the cultural table today than there was in the chauvanist world of 50 years ago. Indeed, blatant sexism is why so many of the artists in Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968, up through January 31 at the Brooklyn Museum (and originally organized by Sid Sachs at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts), received little attention when they were actively making work. But O’Rourke’s “unconscious gender bias” is why so few institutions, academic or otherwise, have paid them any mind in the decades since. We spoke to Catherine Morris, the Curator of the museum’s Sackler Center for Feminist Art, about ten fantastic women Pop Artists from the show that you’ve probably never heard of.
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