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The #5WomenArtists campaign, initiated by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, challenges museums and visitors to acknowledge and address the underrepresentation of women in the art world.

  •  A 2018 analysis of 18 major U.S. art museums found their collections were 87 percent male and 85 percent white.
  • Among contemporary visual artists, women earn 51 cents for every $1 earned by men.
  • More than 60 percent of master of fine arts (MFA) students are women, but only 30 percent of the artists represented by contemporary commercial galleries are women artists.

Data courtesy of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

As we grow our collection, the Museum strives to diversify and acquire more works by women artists from around the world and throughout time. Here are five women artists whose works have recently entered the collection.

1. Wendy Red Star

Drawing on her Apsáalooke (Crow) heritage, Wendy Red Star creates works that blur the lines between stereotype and reality. Red Star photographed cars and houses on the Apsáalooke reservation where she grew up and placed the photographs on a background of satin. The unusual pairing suggests there are a multitude of stories contained within these images, rather than a single narrative of poverty.

In 2018, the Museum acquired five collages from the series, Documentation of Rez Cars & HUD houses of Pryor, Montana (Crow Indian Reservation).

Artist Wendy Red Star with the Museum's 2018 acquisition, Documentation of Rez Cars & HUD houses of Pryor, Montana (Crow Indian Reservation).

2. Angelica Kauffmann

Angelica Kauffmann wasted no time establishing her place in the mid-18th-century art world. By the time she was 12, she was a much sought-after portraitist. Her early travels throughout Europe, particularly Italy, gave her the opportunity to study and copy many masterworks from the Italian Renaissance. One of the most celebrated portraitists of her time, she was one of only two female founding members of the Royal Academy in London in 1768.

In December 2018, the Museum acquired Woman in Turkish Dress, which responds to the popular fascination at the time with the Near East and the lives of aristocratic Turkish women. Woman in Turkish Dress is on view in Gallery 202.

Angelica Kauffmann, Swiss, 1741–1807; Woman in Turkish Dress, 1767; oil on canvas; 24 1/2 × 19 1/2 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Funds given by Dr. E. Robert and Carol Sue Schultz 704:2018

3. Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1942, Mary Lovelace O’Neal creates abstracted mixed-media paintings and prints. Her works are informed by her experiences as a civil rights activist, when she was mentored by figures like Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

City Lights was acquired by the Museum in 2017 as part of the recent gift of the Thelma and Bert Ollie Memorial Art Collection of abstract paintings, sculpture, drawings, and prints. This gift has added significant depth and breadth to the Museum’s holdings of works by contemporary black artists.

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, American, born 1942; City Lights, 1990; offset lithograph, print collage; sheet (irregular): 28 1/8 × 32 1/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, The Thelma and Bert Ollie Memorial Collection, Gift of Ronald and Monique Ollie 177:2017 © Mary Lovelace O'Neal

4. Rosalyn Drexler

Rosalyn Drexler has been many things: a painter, sculptor, novelist, playwright, and even a former wrestler. She was also a key voice in the Pop art movement. Her 1965 work, Fresh News (Men and Machines), depicts two men in suits supervising a commercial printing press. Drexler omits any clues to their identities, conflating them with the machine they operate and suggesting a sinister male gaze and conspiracy to control the press.

The acquisition of this work in 2017 was an important addition to the Museum’s Pop art collection. Fresh News (Men and Machines) is on view in Gallery 254.

5. Unnamed Artists

Throughout history, women have created striking objects—textiles, ceramics, home furnishings—that demonstrate immense artistic skill. While the names and stories of these artists are often unknown, we can still appreciate and learn from these works that provide windows into the lives and culture of their makers.

In 2018, St. Louis-based collectors Paul and Elissa Cahn gave the Museum a gift of weavings and related artworks, including 46 Diné (Navajo) works, which were predominantly woven by women from 1868 to 1900. A selection of these works are currently on view in the exhibition, Southwest Weavings: 800 Years of Artistic Exchange.

Small Blanket, c.1875; Diné (Navajo); wool and dye; 51 1/2 x 33 1/4 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Elissa and Paul Cahn 230:2017

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