One of the foremost artists to emerge in the 1960s, Hannah Wilke (1940–1993) stands as a pivotal figure in postwar American art for her role in furthering dialogues around art and feminism. One of her most significant contributions was the development of a uniquely feminist iconography that referenced female anatomy, which had been long excluded from art history. Wilke’s distinctive and daring work—formally inventive and conceptually rigorous—pushed against prevailing norms around gender and sexuality while also reflecting on our shared human condition. She brought to these subjects a witty and irreverent critique.
Hannah Wilke: Art for Life’s Sake is the first major assessment of Wilke’s work in over ten years. This career-spanning exhibition encompasses Wilke’s prolific practice from the 1960s to her untimely death in 1993, bringing together works on paper, photography, and video, as well as numerous examples of her diverse sculptures in clay, latex, and other non-traditional materials. Collectively, these works showcase Wilke as a trailblazer who was equally invested in advancing the role of women in society as she was in developing a unique artistic practice. The exhibition includes both iconic and rarely shown work, in which Wilke synthesized a variety of influences, including Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Conceptual Art. With some 70 objects installed in loosely chronological sections, the exhibition highlights Wilke’s formal, iconographic, and material innovations, offering new perspectives on this critical and influential figure.