Sheldon Museum of Art



Date of this Version



Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska- Lincoln, PART I: APRIL- OCTOBER 2010.


All images are copyright by the original artists. Publication copyright 2010 The Regents of the University of Nebraska


This special exhibition of the permanent collection focuses exclusively on the contributions of American women artists. The fact of women's historical exclusion from the art world is part of the exploration, "Why have there been no great women artists?"-art historian Linda Nochlin famously asked in a 1971 essay. Her findings pointed to the past exclusion of women from working with male nude models, hence apprenticeships, then professions and academies, to which we add commercial gallery exhibitions, art criticism, and art history. Over the centuries this vicious cycle has shaped the current phenomenon: the predominance of male artists in museum collections .

The expression" better half" historically referred to a wife or lover, acknowledging the significance of the unnamed woman by a man. "Better Twelfth," in the title, refers to the approximate ratio of female to male artists currently represented in the collection, The exhibition demonstrates the productivity of women artists-primari ly twentiethcentury artists-by naming a selection of them in the galleries, allowing us to consider who is still missing in the collection, The galleries are organ ized according to six groups: work by pioneering art ists, sculpture, printmaking, photography, representational and abstract paintings.