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Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) opens The Female Gaze. Women Artists Making their World,

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) presents The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making their World, an exhibition on view fromNovember 17, 2012 – April 7, 2013.

The Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women is a collection of close to 500 works of art (including paintings, photographs, drawings, watercolors, pastels, collage, prints, fabric pieces, ceramics, bronze, wood, and sculpture in other media) by over 150 artists. It came to PAFA as a gift in December 2010 from Linda Lee Alter. The gift (its scope, theme, and size) is unprecedented in PAFA’s history. It includes works by artists PAFA did not yet have in its collection such as Louise Bourgeois, Joan Brown, Viola Frey, Ana Mendieta, Christina Ramberg, Kiki Smith, and Beatrice Wood (among others) to complementary works by artists already in the collection including Gertrude Abercrombie, Edna Andrade, Sue Coe, Janet Fish, Sarah McEneaney, Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Gladys Nilsson, Elizabeth Osborne, Betye Saar, Nancy Spero, and many others.

When Ms. Alter began collecting in the mid-1980s, she realized that despite the monumental efforts of the Women’s’ movement, female artists had far fewer opportunities for visibility than their male counterparts. Ms. Alter decided to work to correct this imbalance, making the conscious decision to assemble a multi-generational collection of art made by women that reveals the stylistic diversity, range of subject matter, and high quality of work being made by female artists. From the outset she hoped that the collection would find a home in a museum so that it could be integrated into the public life of an institution – its educational outreach, exhibitions, scholarship, and use of technology – rather than kept separate as an anomalous thematic collection. Although identity and gender are fundamental to the collection’s overall scope, Ms. Alter’s philosophical aim was that of integration and to draw attention to diversity within the broader art world.

The initial exhibition will be installed on two floors of PAFA’s Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building, in the Fisher Brooks and Annenberg Galleries. More than 200 works will be on view, arranged thematically (including sections on self-portraiture, spiritual reactions to nature, politics, sexuality, family, and a wide range of land- and cityscapes).

After its debut showing, the collection will go on tour to a wide range of venues throughout the United States. Approximately 90 highlights representing major artists and themes within the collection will be available for tour beginning in Summer 2013.

A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the project, for which PAFA has commissioned new essays on American women artists. Among the contributors are Glenn Adamson Deputy Head of Research and Head of Graduate Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Anna C. Chave, Professor of Art History at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, Robert Cozzolino, PAFA, Joanna Gardner-Huggett, Associate Professor of Art History, DePaul University, Melanie Herzog of Edgewood College, Janine Mileaf, Director of the Arts Club of Chicago, Mey-Yen Moriuchi, doctoral candidate, Bryn Mawr College, Jodi Throckmorton Associate Curator at the San Jose Museum of Art, and Michele Wallace, Professor of English, Women’s Studies and Film Studies, CUNY Graduate Center, New York.

PAFA is developing a wide-range of public programs and national collaborations in conjunction with this exhibition.

Curator: Robert Cozzolino, Senior Curator and Curator of Modern Art

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ public programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency). –