She Changed The Face Of British Theatre

The protesters arrived two by two, wearing black suits and face masks that bore the face of the museum’s curator of 20th century art.

It was the summer of 1981 and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was celebrating a trio of exhibitions marking the city’s bicentennial with a Champagne reception interrupted by more than 100 protesters carrying gray and pink balloons that read: “Where are the Women and Minorities?”

Standing out from the black-clad protesters in masks bearing the visage of LACMA curator Maurice Tuchman, were six women in pink cowgirl outfits. They unfurled a banner that read “The Los Angeles County Museum of White Male Art.” One of the bicentennial shows, “Seventeen Artists of the Sixties,” included neither women nor people of color. Another included only two women and no artists of color.

The present: It’s like the past — only different.

In 2017 there was no shortage of questioning — not just of institutions, but of individual artists and the subjects they aim to present.

Stoked by the dissemination powers of the internet, this year was a maelstrom of debate about who wields power, how gender is represented and how artists contend with that third rail of American society: race. It was a reckoning for institutions that have been slow to contend with issues of diversity. But it’s a pendulum swing that also threatened to limit the freedom with which artists and writers conceive and experiment.

Open Casket by Dana Schutz
Alina Heineke / AP

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