Bellagio announces ‘Painting Women’ exhibit featuring work by (and of) female artists

Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigée LeBrun’s “Portrait of a Young Woman” from the Robert Dawson Evans Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts Boston

The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art announced its next exhibit today, Painting Women: Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston—to which we say: "Now, there’s a twist in programming.”

Among the lineup are significant works by Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Berthe Morisot and Louise Élisabeth Vigée LeBrun. The 34 paintings will be on display through October 2014.

The show, opening February 14, follows the outgoing Warhol Out West exhibit and has us wondering (while in a giddy celebratory state over the works’ arrival) how well the broad demographic of tourists will eat it up.

In putting together an exhibit by (and of) female painters between 1860 and 1950, you’re going to run into the small problem of “unfamiliarity” among a general public that thrives on recognizable names. Female artists don’t pop up in dinner table conversation to the extent of their male counterparts. Nor do large quantities of female artists blaze off the pages of art history.

So when brand (ouch) notoriety is what gets the blockbuster-sized crowds through the doors, this could be a challenge. But it could also be one of the more interesting and unique exhibits at what has come to be Las Vegas’ only remaining space dedicated to touring (or on loan) museum-quality artwork from larger institutions (after the closure of the Strip's Guggenheim Hermitage), even though its last three shows have already proven to be top-notch with educational and historical value (Warhol Out West, Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form and A Sense of Place: Landscapes from Monet to Hockney).

The topic of women in art can ignite heated conversations, particularly when it comes to the indifference aimed at female artists throughout history, recent and long past. But Bellagio’s exhibit (extracted from a larger MFA Boston exhibit centered on women) is less about overtly debating the politics of gender as it is about highlighting the story and artwork of theses women. From there, the conversations will likely move forward.

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Kristen Peterson

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