Recurring thematic elements appear throughout the works, including an emphasis on process and materiality, imperfection and indeterminacy. The exhibit includes a wide breadth of textural media, including bronze, aluminum, latex, wood, burlap, wire and many compelling reclaimed and found objects.
Many well known works by recognized artists fill the galleries. Viewers may see a selection of acclaimed abstract expressionist Louise Bourgeois’ freestanding bronze totems from her ‘Personage’ series. Also on view are two grand works by Eva Hesse, created in 1968 – ‘Augment,’ a work of layered latex and canvas upon the gallery’s floor, and ‘Aught’ a corresponding four-part wall piece. The exhibit also includes Ruth Asawa’s wire art mobiles, Sonia Gomes’ fiber sculptures, as well as the work of Yayoi Kusama and Hannah Wilke.
The exhibition shines a light on equally influential, but hardly as celebrated, sculpture artists, featuring works such as Swiss-born Françoise Grossen’s sinuous fiber sculptures, Kaari Upson’s creepy urethane castings of furniture, and a notable work by Magdalena Abakanowicz – an enormous industrial spool whose rope slithers through several galleries.
Though the works are exciting and this show is well-worth seeing, the exhibit as a whole walks a precarious line of essentializing femininity. Not all of the artworks set out to question or comment on gender, but casting these women artists together here dubs them representatives who ‘articulate the female experience,’ putting them in a conversation that was perhaps not intended.
With feminist discourse much more a part of the vernacular these days, ‘Revolution in the Making’ brings the mainstream up to speed, charting artists who deserve their fair share of the limelight for notable achievements in sculpture. That is a good thing. However, the fact that this survey had not yet been assembled is somewhat surprising and begs the question: was the time nigh because feminism is no longer fringe, but trendy?
Whether the show is merely an obligatory homage to the feminist bandwagon will become clear in context, namely in how diverse and inclusive Hauser Wirth & Schimmel’s future programming is. ‘Revolution in the Making’ is hopefully only one of the revisionist histories we’ll see from the art center, which has the potential to bring many more overlooked artists to the fore of public consciousness.
‘Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947-2016‘ is on view until September 4, 2016