Barbara Zucker


Since the 1960’s Zucker has created path-breaking sculpture and challenged the art world status quo. In 1971, with Susan Williams, Zucker originated the idea for the first all-women's gallery in the United States, A.I.R. Gallery, which opened the following year and still thrives today. Described by John Russell in The New York Times as “ blessed relief from the macho semaphoring that so often passes for sculpture” the artist is best known for her bold, often humorous sculptural forms which reference social and political issues, focusing most closely on the lives of women. Like fellow founding A.I.R. artist Judith Bernstein, Zucker rifts on the absurdities and inequities created by patriarchal structures.

As part of the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the 1970's and 1980's, Zucker added decorative elements to her still minimalist, abstract forms, directly challenging the dominant dictates of the time. Going against the grain, Zucker transformed seemingly masculine, industrial materials such as aluminum and steel with "feminine" flourishes including ruffles and ribbons.

Since the 1990's the politics of the domestic sphere and the politics of women’s bodies have been frequent themes in Zucker's work which has more specifically addressed the often overlooked but previously common professional of the wet nurse as well as the contemporary beauty industry. In recent installations at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Zucker addresses gender and the aging body while also paying homage to her colleagues and feminist luminaries, Linda Nochlin and Lucy Lippard.

Zucker’s work has been exhibited at The New Museum, NY; The Sculpture Center, NY; The Drawing Center, NY; Museum of Arts and Design; NY, Artists’ Space; NY; Queens Museum of Art, NY; American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Princeton University, NJ; The Hood Art Museum, Dartmouth University, NH; Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, NY; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art; Holly Solomon Gallery, NY; Robert Miller Gallery, NY; Sidney Janis Gallery NY; PPOW Gallery, NY; DC Moore Gallery, NY and at Accola Griefen in the 2012 exhibition on the Pattern and Decoration Movement, Visual Feast. Recently Zucker was included in the exhibition With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in Contemporary Art 1972-1985 curated by Anna Katz at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which also traveled to the Hessel Museum of Art, NY. The exhibition is accompanied by a significant publication documenting the era. Zucker was also featured in 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone at the The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, CT, in 2021 which celebrated the fifty-first anniversary of the historic 1971 exhibition, Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists, curated by Lucy R. Lippard.  

 Zucker's work is included in numerous private and corporate collections, as well as The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Vera List Collection, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Bryn Mawr College, Bard College, The Broad, a museum of contemporary art, Los Angeles; University of Colorado Art Museum, and University of Mass. at Amherst, among many others. 

 Zucker has received the National Endowment for the Arts award in Sculpture, The Giverny Fellowship awarded by the Lila Acheson Wallace Foundation, France, and residencies at Yaddo and The Ucross Foundation.  

 Born in Philadelphia, Zucker received an undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan before receiving a Master of Arts from Hunter College in Sculpture. She has written for ArtNews, HyperallergicThe Village VoiceThe Art Journal, Painters on Painting, M/E/A/N/I/N/G, Heresies and Women’s Studies, addressing the work of artists including Florine Stettheimer, Ree Morton and Ann Sperry among others.