20th Century

Alma Woodsey Thomas, Iris, Tulips, Jonquils, and Crocuses, 1969; Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

From 1900 through the 1980s, technological, philosophical, and cultural change that opened opportunities for women to play active roles socially and within the artistic avant garde.

At the turn of the century, women in Western Europe and the United States began enjoying greater mobility, educational opportunities, and access to art markets. Many art schools opened their doors to women students for the first time. Women felt freer to work from nude models and to paint and sketch in public spaces. They also played key roles in the expansion of modernist sculpture and the tremendous growth of photography. 

Women played major roles in innovative artistic movements, such as abstraction, expressionism, and minimalism. But, as in the case of Abstract Expressionism, they were still often overshadowed by their male peers who typically received more critical and commercial attention.

The Feminist Art Movement of the 1970s embraced diverse media and methods to transform the art world's status quo, challenge the unequal representation of women in galleries and museums, and reflect female experience in art. Women were also at the forefront of experimentation with performance art, electronic and digital media, and conceptual art.

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