Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Eric Wolf

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Pergam


My thesis analyzes the critical and pioneering role that Katherine Dreier, Juliana Force, and other New York-based female cultural promoters played in advancing the education, acceptance, and appreciation of modern art in America. By illuminating the strategies these women used to accomplish their objectives to support contemporary artists and demystify modern art to the public, as well as elucidating the barriers they overcame as women driving for change in a male-dominated society, I seek to answer the fundamental questions of how and why women were able to play such a central role in creating the canon of modern art in this era, when they were excluded from so many other areas of business and culture. As formidable women with the courage to act on their steadfast conviction that the best of modern art need fostering, I argue that as females, they were uniquely positioned to advocate for a type of art viewed as derivative in comparison to older academic works by European artists championed by male scholars, institutions, and collectors. The objective of my thesis is to reclaim the valuable work of women who made vital contributions to the development of modern art in our country. At a transitional time in history, women made a disproportionate impact that continues to bear significance, as the artists they promoted are firmly enshrined in America’s most prominent institutions, sacralized in scholarship, and cemented into the art historical canon today.