Women’s Work Is Never Done

14 Nov 2023-27 Jan 2024
PV 14 Nov 2023, 6-8pm

Richard Saltoun
London W1S4NS


“Catherine de Zegher’s writing and curatorial practice (…)  is a monumental achievement. Yet it does not seek monumentality. It shows us how to value everything that disdains monumentality and reveals to us the immense importance of tracing other threads of (…) vital creativity by women who (…)  make their contribution as artists to a world in desperate need of their insights, their imaginations, their politics and inscriptions ‘in, of and from the feminine’” -    Griselda Pollock, Introduction for Women’s Work is Never Done. Collected Essays on Women Artists. An Anthology. (2014).

Richard Saltoun Gallery is honoured to present Women’s Work is Never Done, curated by Catherine de Zegher, internationally acclaimed Belgian curator and art historian, celebrating some of the most important female artists from the Post-war era up to the present-day.

Titled after de Zegher's anthology published in 2014, the exhibition features works by gallery artists BRACHA L. Ettinger, Simryn GILL, Everlyn NICODEMUS and Ria VERHAEGHE, alongside pieces by Louise Bourgeois, Edith Dekyndt, Monika Grzymala, Mona Hatoum, Ann Veronica Janssens, Maria Laet, Anna Maria Maiolino, Erin Manning, Ranjani Shettar, Nancy Spero, Cecilia Vicuña, Judith Wright and others.

Since the early 1990s, de Zegher has been amongst the most influential figures to shape the discourse around a ‘woman’s art practice’, dedicating her career to giving visibility to the work of previously underrepresented female artists including BRACHA, Frida Kahlo, Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, Eva Hesse, Anna Maria Maiolino, Cecilia Vicuna, Martha Rosler, Ellen Gallagher and Julie Mehretu. 

Women’s Work Is Never Done spans 3 decades of de Zegher’s curatorial work across 3 gallery spaces, each centred around a distinct concept explored through women artists’ practices: art as a way of subverting political oppression; drawing as an expanded medium and form of relation; and the relationship between art and ecology. The retrospective-exhibition highlights both de Zegher’s essential contributions to art theory, curation, and institutional history, as well as the central threads of concern weaving through her most significant projects from the 1990s until today, such as the feminine principle and the intertwining of self and other, environmentally and socially concerned art.

The first gallery revisits de Zegher’s most famous exhibition, Inside the Visible. An Elliptical Traverse of 20th-Century Art in, of, and from the Feminine at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1996), which travelled to Whitechapel Gallery, London (1996), The Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington (1996), and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (1997). The ground-breaking exhibition put the response to increasing cultural racism and conservatism in the 1930s, 1960s, and 1990s by women artists in historical perspective, and was one of the first museum exhibition explicitly dedicated to women artists. Included will be important works by gallery artist, BRACHA L. Ettinger, as well as Anna Maria Maiolino, Eva Hesse, and a selection of works by Louise Bourgeois and Carol Rama. 

The second gallery is dedicated to the early 2000s and the medium of drawing, which has played a defining role in de Zegher’s career and curatorial research, as the Director of The Drawing Center in New York between 1999-2006. Referencing the large-scale exhibition On Line. Drawing through the Twentieth Century (2010-2011), co-curated by de Zegher at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the display explores how women artists have historically expanded the cross-disciplinary boundaries of drawing, opening up new ways of interpreting and relating to the world and one another. Included will be the works of gallery artist, Everlyn Nicodemus, Cecilia Vicuna, Nancy Spero, and Erin Manning. 

Finally, the third gallery space traces de Zegher’s curatorial work to the poignant contemporary discourse around art and eco-feminism, which has been the focus of recent projects such as the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Australia, (2012), the 5th Moscow Biennale, Russia (2013) and the Australian Pavilion with gallery artist, Simryn Gill, at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Gill’s Maria’s Garden series will be on view as a part of this display alongside works by gallery artist Ria Verhaeghe, Ann Veronica Janssens and Edith Dekyndt, among others. 

Bringing together a breadth of crucially significant institutional exhibitions over 3 decades under one roof, Women’s Work is Never Done is the first retrospective showcasing the volume, importance, and historic weight of Catherine de Zegher’s trailblazing work, which - as the title suggests - continues to challenge and define the realm of art.

Installation views