Through the Roof

What you won't see on the Met roof this summer: Louise Bourgeois's Maman (here being installed at the Tate Modern in London). Image from the Internet

I love the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I love its roof, officially the Iris B. and Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Take the special elevator to the roof and you walk out onto an aerie overlooking Central Park, with the sleek buildings of midtown to the south; the storied apartment buildings of Central Park West: The Dakota, the Beresford, the San Remo (and some fabulous sunsets); and more immediately, the limestone structures of Fifth Avenue to the East.

Once the weather turns warm, sculpture is installed on the roof, where it remains through October. It's the neatest slice of art, architecture and real estate in the city. I've written about two installations--Frank Stella and Roxy Paine--and I loved Doug and Mike Starns's Big Bambu last year; I even took the tour, which allowed me to climb up into the structure.

This year, according to the press release that has just arrived in my in box, the British sculptor Anthony Caro will be up there.  Says the Met proudly: "Anthony Caro on the Roof will be the 14th consecutive single-artist installation on the Cantor Roof Garden." 

It will also be the ninth consecutive male-artist installation.

I have finally gone through the roof! In those 14 years there have been exactly two women: Magdalena Abakanowicz and Coosje van Bruggen (the latter in concert with her partner, Claes Oldenberg). Here's the list from Wikipedia: 

"Every summer since 1998 the roof garden has hosted a single-artist exhibition. The artists have been: Ellsworth Kelly (1998), Magdalena Abakanowicz (1999), David Smith (2000), Joel Shapiro (2001), Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen (2002), Roy Lichtenstein (2003), Andy Goldsworthy (2004), Sol LeWitt (2005), Cai Guo-Qiang (2006), Frank Stella (2007), Jeff Koons (2008), Roxy Paine (2009) and Big Bambú by Doug and Mike Starn (2010).

These are all fine artists--well, except for Koons--but let me ask you: Where is Ursula von Rydingsvard? Where is Chakaia Booker? Where is Maya Lin? Jackie Ferrara? Jackie Winsor? Lila Katzen? Alice Aycock? Mary Miss? Barbara Chase Riboud? Sheila Hicks? Beverly Pepper?

Shall I go on?

Where is Rachel Whiteread? Where is Nancy Azara? Cady Noland? Sherrie Levine? Janine Antoni? Nikki de Saint Phalle? Barbara Hepworth? Rebecca Horn? Pae White?

And where, for the love of god, is Louise?


Kim Matthews said...

Excellent questions! I'd like to know where Jackie Winsor is too-although I've never seen work of hers that could be shown outdoors. And as for Roy, if he weren't Roy, I don't think anyone would give his sculpture a second thought. It's just not good.

Joanne Mattera said...

Right you are about Roy.
As for Winsor. It seems that lot of the work on the roof is commissioned especially for the space. I'd love to see how an artist like Winsor responded to that.

Rachel said...

Hi Joanne, I love your blog--so well done and very thought provoking. First let me say I am completely in favor of getting more work by women in the spotlight. I'm wondering though if the Met’s exhibits are truly a case of male-centric selection, or if there are other factors at work. Some of the artists you mentioned don't readily lend themselves to the Met’s outdoor space (at least in my opinion). Also, I'm sure the roof is a tremendous draw to visit the museum--and we can expect the Met to use it for maximum value and exposure. Do I think the men are doing anything better than the women? No. Are they finding a market niche with their work (either real or generated) and capitalizing on that? In my opinion they are, and as a result they are enjoying a larger breadth of representation. Coming from a background in communications and advertising, I can confidently say that it’s not just what you’ve got--it’s how you’re marketing it.

Joanne mattera said...

Thanks for the kind words. The Met is definitely and egregiously male centric. Look at the collection. OK, men had more opportunities in previous centuries. So look at the contemporary wing, where only a tiny percentage of work--under 10 percent--is by women. I don't know who, exactly, makes the acquisiton decisions, but these folks are living in the 21st century.
Institutionalized sexism (and racism and other isms) are surely at work.
And I say this as one who still loves the Met.

Donna Dodson said...

Deborah Butterfield, Lin Emery, Nina Levy, Kitty Wales, Wendy Klemperer?

Joanne Mattera said...

Donna Dodson.

Bernard Klevickas said...

YES! You are absolutely right Joanne.

Andy Moerlein said...

Bernard is RIGHT!

Nancy Natale said...

Time for another group of Irascibles to protest!

I would love to see Jackie Winsor on the roof!And a huge spider by Louise would be great!

Related work: Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold.

Julie Takacs said...

Andy is Right!!

annell4 said...

Joanne I love your blog! It is packed full of wonderful info, just like chunky peanut butter! I have been so busy I haven't had much time on the puter. I'll be back to read more of your amazing posts!

Donna Dodson said...

Jackie Winsor is teaching at SVA in NYC. What about a bronze Marisol like the one they have at Grounds for Sculpture in NJ?

Anonymous said...

Hey I'm happy to say that last year I succeeded in getting this spider photo into a textbook in a chapter of a textbook that I was designing. It was a challenge because of her penis sculptures..but the spider pic is in a physical science chapter that i designed. Go LOUISE! God forbid that kids would think about a penis.... ha

Joanne Mattera said...

Thanks, everyone.
@Lynette: I love that you were able to get an LB spider into a science text.

Nancy Ewart said...

Is there any major American museum that isn't male centric? Ages ago, when I started back to college as an elder student (an over 60-something but with energy and hutzpa to spare), I did a piece on SF MOMA titled "Where are the women?" Several years later and the situation has not changed much. To top it all off, I wanted to do something along these lines for my MFA, dealing with sexism and museum politics. I was told that it wasn't a relevant topic for a master's thesis. I was on the verge of dropping out anyway as my journalism. writing and painting practice had become more important than academic studies. I bet you can't guess what my response was to this! We need the Guerrilla Girls, we need more agit-prop and we certainly need more exposure for all the marvelous women artists in all mediums who are passed over, ignored, denigrated or disparaged.

Unknown said...

Thank you for posting your blog to:

Where Are All the Women?
On MoMA’s identity politics.
By Jerry Saltz

and for your work on sexism in the art world.

It was the topic of my MFA thesis and I continue to work on my archive of women artists, exhibit the archive and present on this issue.