The Power of She: A Tribute to Women in the Arts is a six-week long festival of female creativity with two women at the helm: the St James’s gallery’s director Mica Bowman and independent curator and dealer Marie-Claudine Llamas of Guerin Projects.
Running from May 4-June 16 in London, the show coincides with Dulwich Picture Gallery’s exhibition on Berthe Morisot, the Barbican’s show on Alice Neel and the unveiling of the Tate Britain rehang, in which half the contemporary artists represented are set to be women.
It is no secret that major institutions are desperate for female artists to populate their shows and permanent collections, and private buyers are following suit.
Among the 14 artists represented in The Power of She are Camille Claudel (1864-1943), Barbara Hepworth (1903-75), Elizabeth Frink (1930-93), Joanna Allen and Lily Lewis, most of them major names to attract serious buyers. The earliest entry is an 18th century painting attributed to Sarah Hoadly (1676-1743).
At its heart it is a traditional show, bringing together primarily sculpture and painting with some mixed media.
Speaking to ATG shortly before the show was hung, Llamas said: “We’re excited about putting the works up. It always makes the show more explicit and understandable.
That’s the generosity of curation, the works speak for themselves.”
What Llamas and Bowman would like the works to convey is something meaningful about the history of women’s identities and how female artists have impacted the world. To help with this aim, they have widened the scope of the usual gallery show.
Sculptor Emily Young, who has long been represented by the gallery, has created a new work out of lapis lazuli for inclusion.
But, Bowman says, “we’re celebrating women in the arts in general”.
The art of performance
Along with the usual assortment of talks and panel discussions, the gallery will host performances by female DJs, musicians and Natascha Mair, prima ballerina of the English National Ballet. Pink Diesel, a female-founded rosé wine, is sponsoring the show and there will be a dinner for women in investment banking.
Bowman joined the family business in 2019. She describes her work at the gallery, launched by her parents in 1993, as “expanding the Contemporary side and jazzing up the 19th century side”. Robert Bowman, her father, still heads the dealership, but for this show, Mica is in the spotlight.
Still, the exhibition is not a left turn for the business. Though the gallery is best known for its trade in works by Auguste Rodin, its recent stand-out sales also include those by women such as Claudel, Young, Germaine Richier and Hanneke Beaumont.