Tag Archives: Art History

Woman Artist: I Want More.

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.

Links

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

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Woman Artist: Leonora Carrington

Hello everyone!

March, as many of you know, is Women’s history month and today is International Women’s Day. I should have been doing this for the past week, I seriously do not know why it didn’t occur to me until today, but for the rest of the month I am going to dedicate a post to a woman in the arts each day. I hope to help educate the public on the importance and value of art and of women in the arts.

Happy International Women’s Day!!

Leonora Carrington – British-born Mexican artist. April 1917- May 2011

I was first introduced to Carrington’s work in a general art history class way back in 1998.  I was 18 years old, a freshman in college and trying my best to learn as much about famous artists as I could. I remember having a fear that none of this art history I was “learning” would actually stick and everyone would soon know that I was really very clueless about art.

It was surrealism day in class and Leonora Carrington was one of the few female artists that graced the screen that day, or even that semester. I am fairly certain that her work was there more as a filler image for my professor’s lecture and an attempt to show some diversity in a course that was dominated by white male artists. My professor never did expand too much about Carrington work or her life and I don’t recall having to study her for any exam. But up on the screen amid the Dali’s and Magritte’s pops up Carrington’s ‘Self Portrait (1937)’ and I was immediately in awe. Her work seemed so much different than the other surrealists. Her self-portrait was raw and self-aware. At the time I didn’t know anything of her, but it was evident that she was expressing her core self.

Self Portrait

Carrington used events in her life to draw from for artistic inspiration.

She was raised in Britain by a wealthy family and educated by a governess. At a young age she rebelled against the social life of the wealthy British. Kicked out of several schools due to “unruly behavior” until her father consented to send her to Florence, where she studied art. Shortly afterwards she attended Chelsea Art Academy and later the Ozenfant Academy in London.

In 1936 she met and fell in love with the German artist Max Ernst at a surrealist exhibition in London and later ran away with him to Paris where the two artists would nourished each other’s artistic visions. Her family was not very supportive and due to her relationship with Ernst she became estranged from her father. She painted Ernst’s portrait in a frosty landscape featuring him in an odd furry purple costume and an ice horse in the background as homage to their love.

Portrait of Max Ernst

Unfortunately WWII was looming in the near future and the two artists were separated. Ernst was first arrested by the French officials as a hostile alien and then later by the Nazis, where he was briefly placed in a concentration camp. The stress and fear of what as happening to Ernst caused Carrington to flee to Spain where she had a nervous break down and was institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital. Her experiences here were later recounted in the book ‘Down Below’. When both Carrington and Ernst were able to meet up again, too much horror and trauma had happened for them to reconnect.

Carrington then married Mexican diplomat Renato Leduc to help her relocate to Mexico where she experience more success for her work than in her native Britain. When she and Leduc amicably divorced she then married photojournalist and Hungarian immigrant Chiki Weisz, had two sons and spent the rest of her life divided between Mexico City and New York City.

Leonora Carrington died May 25, 2011 at the age of 96.

Additional links for further discovery of Leonora Carrington.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/may/26/leonora-carrington-obituary 

http://clara.nmwa.org/index.php?g=entity_detail&entity_id=1618

http://maricarmenvillares.blogspot.com/2012/01/leonora-carrington-la-inasible.html – A blog in Spanish.