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“I’ll show you what a woman can do.” – Artemisia Gentileschi, 1649

Through her work on The Great Women Artists Instagram and Podcast and her new book The Story of Art without Men published by WW Norton (2 May 2023), Katy Hessel has taken major steps to rewrite the art history, from Hildegard of Bingen to Flora Yukhnovich, that has historically been dominated by men. Instead, Hessel’s work highlights underrepresented stories, and works of art made by women over the last 500 years. Like the exhibition Put It This Way: (Re)Visions of the Hirshhorn Collection, currently on view on the Museum’s third floor, The Story of Art without Men investigates the relationship between art and gender, and foregrounds women within the larger story of art.

Hessel joined Hirshhorn associate curator Anne Reeve for a conversation about The Story of Art without Men and how select artists on view in Put It This Way have made a mark on modern and contemporary art history.

Challenge yourself! How many women artists can you name? How many women artists who were working before 1900?

The Story of Art without Men is available for purchase from the Hirshhorn Museum Store.

This program is presented in conjunction with Put It This Way: (Re)Visions of the Hirshhorn Collection.


Katy Hessel is an art historian, broadcaster and curator dedicated to celebrating women artists from all over the world. She runs @thegreatwomenartists Instagram and The Great Women Artists Podcast, where she has interviewed the likes of Tracey Emin and Marina Abramović. Katy has lectured at Tate and National Gallery, presented films for the BBC, and is a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University. She is a columnist for the Guardian, and the author of The Story of Art without Men – a Sunday Times Bestseller and winner of Waterstones Book of the Year 2022. She lives in London.


The story of art for our times—one with women at the center, brought together for the first time by the creator of @thegreatwomenartists.
From Leonardo da Vinci to Jean-Michel Basquiat, the great painters and sculptors who have defined the fine art canon have largely been men. Katy Hessel seeks to right that wrong by cataloging, celebrating, and elevating women artists and placing their groundbreaking work in its historical, political, and cultural context. From the Renaissance to the present day, Hessel breaks down each time period and movement using a global lens, expanding the canon to include the work of non-Western artists, queer and racially marginalized artists, photographers, textile artists, and more.

Discover the glittering Sofonisba Anguissola of the Renaissance and the radical work of Harriet Powers in the nineteenth century. Explore the Dutch Golden Age, the astonishing work of post-war artists in Latin America, and the women defining art in the 2020s. Featuring more than 100 works of art in color, The Story of Art Without Men is a timeless and essential addition to any library. The American edition of The Story of Art Without Men published by WW Norton will be available for purchase May 2. Find out more here.

Titled after a 1963 painting by American pop artist Rosalyn Drexler, whose work is featured in the first gallery, Put It This Way speaks to traditionally marginalized artists’ decisive and virtuosic achievements, and investigates a wide array of aesthetic, political and historical concerns. The full-floor presentation of 75 artwork by 49 female and gender non-conforming artists is intended to encourage conversations around the significance of gender in creating and perceiving an artwork, the effects of categorizing artists by gender as well as the museum’s role and responsibilities in stewarding the national collection of modern and contemporary art.


May 4, 2023
6:30 pm–7:30 pm
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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Hirshhorn Museum, Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW
Washington, DC 20560 United States
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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
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