HAPPY WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH!
To start off a month featuring several highly talented women in the arts I would like to share a couple of videos that have recently caught my attention.
The first is a beautiful montage of women as subjects in the last 500 years of mainly European art morphing from one masterpiece to another. The video montage was created by Phillip Scott Johnson (aka eggman913) and was nominated for a 2007 YouTube Award for “Creativity”. Every year this video makes its social media rounds and it is really quite fun to watch and try to identify the masterpieces. But of the 90 works of art featured in the video ONLY TWO of the portraits were painted by two women artists and interestingly they are evenly spaced apart as if to create a balance between each other amongst their male counterparts.
#32. (.58) Élisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun – self portrait, 1782
#64. (1.58) Mary Cassatt – Woman with a Pear Necklace in a Loge, 1879
I am not setting out to imply that the intentions behind the video were meant to disparage women artists. I don’t believe at all that that is the case and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the video as much as anyone else who is a fan of art. These works of art are the staple of any introduction to art history course – I was having flashbacks – and women have been subjects of great art since the moment humans began making their first marks on the walls of caves.
But, in simple terms, I want more. I want more works by women depicting women in art. AND I want a video of men as subjects in artistic masterpieces depicted by both men and women across the globe. I want more representation. I want more points of view.
The second is a recent video “Unlock Art: Where Are the Women” by the Tate featuring Jemima Kirke from the acclaimed HBO’s series Girls discussing women’s absence from history books despite their existence in art history. Its short educational video that is worth a watch.
And finally, as an expansion of the ideas presented by Jemima Kirke in the previous video, the third video “A Woman’s Touch: The National Museum of Women in the Arts” a short educational film from Great Museums of the World featuring the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) and their efforts illustrating the history of women in the arts.In the beginning many critics claimed that there was no need to “separate women artists” into the National Museum of Women in the Art. To which Wilhelmina (Billie) Holladay, co-founder of NMWA, responded:
“They were separated, they weren’t included and were not going to be included unless something heighten the awareness occur. Until we opened there were hardly ever any exhibitions of women in the arts. Less than 2% of all the paintings in museums were women”
Today, thanks to the strong and unyielding efforts of women and men dedicated to shedding light on the existence of women in arts, women DO have a stronger presence in galleries and museums across the country and beyond borders than they did 30 years ago. But, I still want more.
The arts are the foundation of EVERY culture and yet representation in the arts is often still very narrow. Yes, there are improvements and visibility of the underrepresented are becoming clearer with each generation, but; there will always be room for improvement, new ideas will always evolve and history books will still be written by a select few unless we keep pushing for more.
The Tate’s Youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/tate?feature=watch
List of artists featured in Phillip Scott Johnson (youtube: eggman913) http://www.maysstuff.com/womenid.htm
National Museum of women in the arts: http://www.nmwa.org
Great Museums of the world: http://greatmuseums.org