‘Radical Women’ at the Hammer Museum Is the Kind of Show That Art Critics Live For

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985” at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is not just a fantastic exhibition. It’s the kind of exhibition that people always say we need more of—as regular as a ticking clock—every time the latest selfie-courting contemporary-art spectacular provokes a new spasm of anguish from critics about the decline of the museum.

Based on six years of research, “Radical Women” is a serious and scholarly show. And yet at the same time it feels like its own kind of crowd-pleaser. You don’t have to choose between being smart and being popular if you’re telling a story that feels necessary. And “Radical Women” has necessary stories to spare.

The show brings together 116 female artists hailing from points across South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Some are quite well-known (to art-history buffs at least), including Lygia Clark, Marisol, Ana Mendieta, Lygia Pape, and Liliana Porter. But most are not—and that’s part of the point.

In what amounts to an art-historical rescue mission, co-curators Ceciia Fajardo-Hill and Andrea Giunta have managed to surface a phenomenal diversity of work by figures who have been overlooked or under-studied, marginalized both as women and as Latin Americans.

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