This week, the Dallas Museum of Art debuts its final exhibition of the year, He Said/She Said: Contemporary women artists are stepping in. On display from December 17 to July 21, 2024, it will showcase works by artists from the 1970s to today who, according to materials provided by the museum, “question the myth of the sole male genius and create space for new , more inclusive narratives.”
Speaking to members of the press ahead of the exhibit’s preview, director Agustin Arteaga referred to this year’s female-centric pop culture, calling it “the year of Beyoncé, Barbie and Taylor Swift” as an opportunity to show how women have “liberated space and controlled the narrative throughout the story’.
The exhibition aims to challenge the ubiquity of white men in art spaces, critique both sexism and racism, and reframe the role of women in art as more than muses and objects of desire.
“Women don’t require male antecedents to make sense of their own work,” says Veronica Myers, a curatorial assistant who gave a lively press tour of the new exhibit before its opening.
The exhibition is divided into four thematic sections. Women and Appropriation shows artists who worked in postmodernism and reject the idea of genius and unique thought and postulate that all art is built on references to the past. This section includes “Pledge, Will, Vow,” a striking video installation by Barbara Kruger, a signature self-portrait by photographer Cindy Sherman, and an art history book with a vulvar hole cut through it by Dallas artist Caletta Doolin.
The next section, the so-called Black female subjectivity, shows works by black women artists who appropriate images made famous by white men to reclaim their place in the narrative. The centerpiece of this section is Lauren Halsey’s South Central City Farm / Doing My Thang, which is placed directly in front of a work by the minimalist Donald Judd to juxtapose similar creative elements filtered through different perspectives.
Women in Surrealism shows the ways in which women artists have used surrealist imagery to explore and challenge gender roles. The work of younger artists such as Emily May Smith and Ivy Halderman mingles with predecessors such as Salvador Dalí to demonstrate a creative conversation that transcends time. To Olivia Erlanger Persistencea sculpture depicting a mermaid’s tail emerging from a washing machine featured extensively in promotional materials for the exhibition.
The last section, Cooperation and friendship, reminds visitors that female artists did not simply co-exist with men, but were active collaborators. Just as women have served as muses for male artists, the reverse is also true, as shown in Kalida Rawls’ photorealistic painting In His Image.
He Said/She Said: Contemporary women artists are stepping in is curated by Catherine Brodbeck and runs through July 21, 2024 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St. Tickets are available on the museum’s website.