The exhibit is titled “Picturing Progress: Hungarian Women Photographers, 1900–1945,” and the obstacles faced by the featured lenswomen were substantial. In addition to jumping gender barriers typical of early 20th century Europe, a 1920 law in Hungary reduced educational opportunities for women—and specifically Jewish women—including many of the photographers. (The impact of the Holocaust is not mentioned.) If the featured artists were groundbreaking in their career choices, their art, limned in such painterly methods as the bromoil process, was not always so. Many of the images from the 1920s harken to the gauzy, domestic pictorialism in vogue between about 1890 and 1910, and even to mid-1800s-era still lifes—even though fellow Hungarian Laszlo Moholy-Nagy was among the many Western photographers taking a more avant-garde approach by then. More up-to-date was the women’s socially conscious documentary work during the 1930s, mirroring what American photographers, including Dorothea Lange and Margaret Bourke-White, were doing during the Great Depression.
THE EXHIBIT IS ON VIEW MONDAY to SATURDAY, 10 A.M.–5 P.M., AND SUNDAY, NOON–5 P.M., TO AUG. 30 AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS, 1250 NEW YORK AVE. NW. $8–$10. (202) 783-5000.