You’ve come a long way, Baby: Women in Photography

by Laurie Henzel

This past Sunday, me and the old man decided to get some culture, so we hoofed it up to the MOMA for the Cartier-Bresson show. It was very good (and very crowded) but after shuffling around for 40 minutes, trying to squeeze into a place to see something on the wall, we decided that we’d had enough. On the way downstairs we stumbled upon a different photo exhibit, Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography,” which I somehow totally missed ever hearing about. Wow, dare I say it was more interesting than the ol’ French dude upstairs?

“Pictures by Women” is a fantastic collection of female photography starting at the dawn of the medium in 1839 and spanning up to the modern day. Its fascinating to see the early, fuzzy works of pioneers like Julia Margaret Cameron and Gertrude Kasebier,  often depicting mother with child or the peaceful female form, in contrast with the avant garde images of later artists like Claude Cahun or Berenice Abbott.

While there are the heavy hitters and expected names like Lee Miller, Dorthea Lange, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus and Helen Levitt, there are also many that I had forgotten about, or had never heard of. One of the most intriguing was a silkscreen entitled Action Pants: Genital Panic. 1969 by the artist Valie Export, (shown above).  I had fun looking her up today!

With over 200 works by 120 artists, the show really seems to hit all the right spots, It’s very in depth and varied in genre, and luckily its up until May of 2011, so there is no excuse to miss it!

Above: “Untitled,” by Julia Margaret Cameron, left, from about 1867; “The Manger,” right, by Gertrude Kasebier, from 1901, at MoMA. Bottom: Cindy Sherman. Untitled #92. 1981. Chromogenic color print, 24 x 47 15/16″ (61 x 121.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Fellows of Photography Fund. © 2010 Cindy Sherman

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.