SHE/HER: A New Look at a History of Art Since 1900

October 3 - November 17, 2019
San Francisco, CA


This online exhibition pulls from the extensive inventory of Heather James Fine Art to bring an eclectic examination of a history of art since 1900. The exhibition refocuses art history by exclusively featuring female artists. This centering on female artists bridges the gap between the reality that there were and have always been many women producing art and our preconceived notions of art history (ie the great man theory). We are, thus, confronted with art histories plural. Rather than following a single stream or to think of it as a development of movements, this exhibition mixes different times and styles reflecting the reality that concurrent, sometimes conflicting ideas emerge and advance across decades through conversations between artists.

Key figures include Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman, Pat Steir and many others. A carnival of movements and ideas runs through the exhibition from abstract expressionism to surrealism, craftwork to holograms. The exhibition posits a more complex understanding of art histories. How else to explain the surrealism of Kay Sage and Alice Rahon existing in the same decade as Elaine de Kooning’s abstract expressionism or Nancy Spero’s psychosexual figures? Or that the works in the exhibition by Barbara Kruger, Deborah Butterfield, Louise Nevelson, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold were all created within the span of a few years? While a merry medley, the exhibition can be seen through different themes to help viewers reevaluate ideas and dig deeper into the artworks.

Facts and Figures – Is the body always a body? Who is looking at whom? From the invented identities of Cindy Sherman to the majestic horses of Deborah Butterfield, the artists stretch the ideas of figuration to speak beyond lifelike representation and into studies of narratives and power.

Which Craft? – Representing a domain historically open to women, these craft works are not just illustrations of technique but deep investigations into materiality. How do we approach the glass portraiture of Micaela Amato or the washi paper art of Kyoko Ibe?

In the Abstract – This theme explores the myriad ways abstraction has been used not just as an enquiry into itself but as an analysis of different societal and cultural structures. Artists include Michael Corinne West, Elaine de Kooning, Louise Nevelson, Pat Stier and more.

Residue of a Life – In this section, the artists explore narratives, interpreting the traces of life into art. From the language of Barbara Kruger to the psychology of Louise Bourgeois, from the sunny impressionism of Mabel May Woodward to the bright sculpture of Katharina Grosse, the artworks push story-telling into deep examinations of life and the traces and reverberations it leaves behind.