Almost 50 years ago, art historian Linda Nochlin’s 1971 seminal essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?,” became an electrifying feminist rallying cry that called out male-dominated art institutions. Fittingly, Alice Neel’s vibrant portrait of Nochlin with her young daughter—depicting the fierce scholar as a tender mother—is a centerpiece of “Women Take the Floor,” currently on view at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art. This exhibition of art by women, which takes over an entire floor, aims to correct what the museum calls “systemic gender discrimination.”
The more than 200 works, primarily from the museum’s collection, are organized into seven thematic galleries and encompass painting, sculpture, fiber art, prints, design, and more. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the show also takes on racial disparities by showcasing work by African-American, Latin-American, Asian-American, and indigenous women.