Women in Photography
By D. J. Herda
For much of photography’s 170-year history, women were relegated to the sidelines. Despite early social stigmas attached to photographers in dresses, a surprising number of them persisted, contributing significantly to photographic art.
In honor of these female pioneers, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City recently unveiled Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, a collection of 200 of the most noteworthy photographic images by women “charting the medium’s history,” from photography’s earliest years through to the present.
Some of the names are immediately recognizable (Diane Arbus, Berenice Abbott, Imogen Cunningham, Lisette Model). Others may be less than household names: Rineke Dijkstra, Florence Henri, Roni Horn, Nan Goldin and Kiki Smith.
This extraordinary exhibition also highlights the work of various curatorial departments. Bottoms, for example, is a large-scale Fluxus wallpaper created from one of the photographs of people’s buttocks taken from a 1966 film by Yoko Ono.
The MoMA exhibition is presented in conjunction with the museum’s publication of the book, Modern Women: Women Artists at the Museum of Modern Art.
The Museum of Modern Art is located at 11 W. 53rd St., New York.
Other examples of women’s photography are available online courtesy of the California Museum of Photography’s Women’s Photographers Website. The site includes images by some of the best-known names in the history of the art/science of photography, along with exemplary images by other lesser-known photographers.
Both the MoMA and the California Museum of Photography presentations are worth a long, lingering look.