PEGGY GUGGENHEIM’S PIONEERING ALL-FEMALE EXHIBITION IS HAVING A COMEBACK
Peggy Guggenheim is mostly remembered as one thing today: An absolute art lover and advocate, holding an enormous impact in shaping the art world of the 20th century. A primary example marking her as more than qualified for this description is the gallerist’s almost revolutionary “Exhibition by 31 Women” which she put on at her Art of This Century gallery just one year after its opening in New York City in 1942. One of the first ever exhibitions to exclusively showcase female artists, “31 Women” didn’t only perfectly match the socialite’s strive for the innovative in the art world, but also managed to secure contributions of artists from sixteen nationalities, amongst them the likes of Frida Kahlo or Meret Oppenheim.
Reminiscent of Guggenheim’s equality driven approach, Breese Little Gallery in London is now reviving her iconic show, including female artists from the 1940s to this date, and also depicting Peggy Guggenheim’s love for everything surrealistic. Running under two main themes, the modern day adaption of “31 Women” highlights the psychological, instinctual and erotic as well as the expressionistic and abstract in female work, while simultaneously demonstrating the importance of showing such variety in the 1940s, and equally now.
When Guggenheim first put on “Exhibitions by 31 Women”, one journalist is said to have refused to cover the show for a big U.S. American magazine because he felt there were “no worthy women artists”. Fast forward approximately 70 years into the future, a survey in 2012 still stated that less than 5 % of the biggest permanent collections in museums of the U.S. and Europe are works of female artists, making gender based inequality in the art world still a distinctly relevant topic – and challenging this instance in the spirit of trailblazer Peggy Guggenheim all the more significant.
“31 Women” is on at Breese Little Gallery in London until the 29th of July