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Female Artists in Art History

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Rock of The Westies
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Another topic brought up a valid point about female artists being someone unrecognized in the industry. I guess for agument's sake we can point out Yuyi Morales who has won many awards, although correct me if I'm wrong, I do think the Caldecott is an honor she has yet to receive. Carol Heyer renders exquisite art, is in high demand for book covers and her own picuture book Humphrey's Christmas is a lovely addition to any Christmas Book Collection.

I agreed when I read an anonymous post about male artists being sought after. After going to a conference and being in a room with 30 - 35 Portfolios, all but two of them were from women. And the one most swooned over by representation was presented by a male. His work was wonderful, however, there was other art on display that, in my opinion, was very noteworthy.

As for Art History, women still seem to be standing in the shadow. I wrote a Picture Book some time ago in which many male artists present their work to a grouch of a character. He is seeking artwork for his grande hall. In the end, a female artist walks in as a little girl,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sofonisba_Anguissola  .  In critique, this story has been well received for the most part. But the one thing that stands out is that most people don't know who Sofonisba Anguissola is. Michelangelo mentored her. I was not taught about her in Art history. As a matter of fact, in the primary curriculum, I'd venture to say that female artists aren't covered at all. Some folks may be a bit disgruntled about me mentioning Barbie Movies, but to their credit, one of them teaches about female artists: Rapunzel. Other features of the film address the topic of Female Artists in History. This is where I had first heard of Sofonisba and did some research on my own.

I guess this may be construed as a rant, but I'd like to think of it as an opening for our non-fiction writers.  :smile
#1 - December 10, 2008, 06:34 AM
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jadefrolics

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As a positive note I just wanted to mention that we learned about Sofonisba Anguissola in one of our most basic art history classes, and my professors always made a point to spend a good amount of time on an unknown female artist (who probably would have been incredibly famous if she were a man.) So I do think that some professors are working to change this imbalance, but still kind of pathetic that just talking about one or two female artists is doing more than what most professors do...

I've also always disliked that you have to take a "Women in Art" course to learn about women in art, while the main course is just called "Art History," like women are a sidenote.  :bricks
#2 - December 10, 2008, 07:59 AM

Another small positive note: my daughter learned about Georgia O'Keefe, Frida Kahlo and Mary Cassatt in second and third grade art class. (But your point is well taken.)
#3 - December 10, 2008, 12:00 PM
« Last Edit: December 10, 2008, 02:23 PM by kittypye »
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Traci Dee

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I never heard of Sofonisbo (and if I have, I doubt I would have remember such a wild name anyway).  The only female artists I can name off the top of my head are Georgia O'Keefe, Frieda Kahlo, Evelyn de Morgan, that photographer who takes pictures of celebrities...is it Berkowitz?...and that's it. 
#4 - December 10, 2008, 12:25 PM

Traci Dee

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Not Berkowitz--Liebowitz (sp?) Annie Liebowitz.  Just remembered.
#5 - December 10, 2008, 12:51 PM

Barbara Eveleth

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Like every other field except (pornography) motherhood and children's book editors, women have always been behind men career wise. Not because of lack of talent or skill but because it wasn't acceptable for a woman to have the opportunity.

If you look at the art scene today, the ratio of women to men gaining critical acclaim is about the same. Most of my artists friends here in town are women and quite fine artists.

I don't quite understand why women are lagging behind in the Caldecott area. Let's try and change that.

Thanks for starting this thread FS.
#6 - December 10, 2008, 01:30 PM

Rock of The Westies
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Yes, let's try and change the Caldecott, and maybe even go a step further to change curriculum. I do believe that Sofonisba would be a household name like her male mentor if  she were also a male. And like Jade suggested, why is it that women's artwork is put into a different catagory when it comes to art history? Music History is music history and I do think the likes of Cristina Aguilera, Celine Dion or even Madonna for all her marketability will be remembered with their male counterparts. Sofanisba's story is classic in that she grew up in a time when woman's role in society was subdued. Her father made sure his daughters were taught about art and literature. Out of the norm for her time, she followed her desires and forged forward paving the way for other females to follow the same pursuit. That is BIG history.

I am glad however, that some teachers are covering Georgia O'Keefe in elementary education. That's a step. I used to love Bev Doolittle when I was younger and stood in awe of how she could paint another picture hidden within a picture.  There are so many names that could be added to the books.
#7 - December 10, 2008, 01:59 PM
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The only female other than Frida Khalo I learned about in Art history class was Artemisia Gentileschi, a student of Carravaggio. One of her paintings, 'Judith With the Head of Holofrenes', depicted Judith beheading the man who had raped her and it also graced the cover of our text book. I think she was noted as one of the first feminists. I took my name from her.

Of course, being from Canada, we also learned about Emily Carr.



**sorry, we also learned about Georgia O'Keefe
#8 - December 11, 2008, 12:01 AM
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Thank You Artemesia,

After you mentioned the inspiration for your board name, I did a search on her and she is very intriguing : http://www.artemisia-gentileschi.com/index.shtml  I especially like the work that depicts one lit candle and the contrast of light and dark on the subjects. Her story is amazing. Now I'm off to look up Canadian Emily Carr's works.
#9 - December 11, 2008, 05:12 AM
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Matt

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I try to avoid these topics so I'll just throw some names at you: Cindy Sherman, Tracy Emin, Jessica Stockholder. Not illustrators but contemporary artists who will stand equally amongst men when discussing contemporary art at the end of the 20th century - no question.

On a side note. I started my tertiary art studies in 1997, went through post-grad studies and still have contact with many institutions. Over the past 10 years I have visibly noticed females starting to outnumber male student participation in fine and graphic arts courses...especially photography and installation based art.
#10 - December 11, 2008, 07:04 AM

Mike Jung

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When I was an undergrad we learned about some female artists (mostly 20th century), partly because my department had a strong level of feminist activism. The instructors included Cathy Opie and Barbara Krueger, who were very active in both the L.A. and national art scenes. We looked into artists like Kiki Smith, Sally Mann, Eva Hess, Yoko Ono and Karen Finley, and interestingly I remember the photographers best - Carrie Mae Weems, Diane Arbus and my personal favorite, Cindy Sherman. That said, I agree with the sentiment regarding the Caldecott - the winner lists tilt noticeably toward men, especially this decade, and they do seem to reflect the problems with gender bias that we, as a society, have always had.
#11 - December 11, 2008, 07:10 AM
« Last Edit: December 11, 2008, 07:13 AM by Mike Jung »

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great thread!  I just had a mini-art history lesson on two amazing female artists today - thanks!
#12 - December 11, 2008, 09:07 AM
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I especially like the work that depicts one lit candle and the contrast of light and dark on the subjects. Her story is amazing.

the one with the candle is also the one i was referring to. you can actually see more detail in the severed head in better quality reproductions. I'm not sure if they go into detail in the site you posted, but the 7 month rape trial made her an outcast. Back then, it was the woman on trial if she claimed rape, her onus to prove it happened, and prove she didn't 'bring it on herself' if it was rape, so to speak. She was treated as a criminal, guilty until proven innocent. I remember being horribly shocked and outraged during that particular art history lesson.

Matt, I can't believe I forgot about Cindy Sherman! thanks for the memory jog!!
#13 - December 11, 2008, 10:10 AM
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Barbara Eveleth

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I was an art history minor (doesn't that sound weird?) in college and the ratio of male to female artists is staggering. Not really fair, huh?

#14 - December 11, 2008, 10:17 AM

Rock of The Westies
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I've noticed the female to male ratio in other areas of creativity too.

Thank you so much Artemesia, Barb, Mike and Matt for the additional names. Some of these women have led or are leading very interesting lives, each one has a story worth a delve into non-fiction or historical fiction.
#15 - December 14, 2008, 06:18 AM
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Z-cat

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I was an art history minor (doesn't that sound weird?) in college and the ratio of male to female artists is staggering. Not really fair, huh?



Do you mean the ones you studied? Or the actual students?
#16 - December 14, 2008, 10:20 AM

Barbara Eveleth

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Hee hee hee, Z-Cat!


#17 - December 14, 2008, 10:40 AM

Z-cat

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No, really!  :duh
When I was in college, we usually had a pretty even mix of guys/gals in my studio classes. But more students of art history. And I had whole classes that never covered a SINGLE female artist.
#18 - December 14, 2008, 10:45 AM

Barbara Eveleth

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Probably more girls but my school at that time was 60/40 female to male.

My classes in NY were more even.





I still come back to the fact that women for most of history have had little to no roles other than those stated in my post above.
#19 - December 14, 2008, 10:49 AM

Charzi

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Remedios Varo, was an amazing surrealist, far cooler than Frida Kahlo but no one ever covered her in my art history classes, some other female artists not mentioned here we did cover in class was Lyobov Popova, Judith Leister was barely mentioned, Berthe Morisot, Meret Oppenheimer, Mary Cassett, Imogen Cunningham (great photographer).. thats all I remember atm.

hmm  Tamara de Lempicka is a favorite of mine, she was never covered either :(

Oh and Evelyn de Morgan, she's awsome too!

#20 - March 07, 2009, 08:21 AM
« Last Edit: March 07, 2009, 08:36 AM by Charzi »

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My female Art History professor introduced us to Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun who served as court painter to Marie Antoinette and was accepted as a member of France's Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture.
Here's a link to an interesting article entitled Old Masters: Overlooked Women Artists
http://www.gadflyonline.com/01-14-02/ftr-women.html
#21 - March 07, 2009, 11:41 AM

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Angelica Kauffmann and Mary Moser were among the founding members of the Royal Academy in England...but not surprisingly, in a later picture done of the founding members, they were only depicted as portraits on the wall--not as flesh and blood participants, because it was not considered appropriate for women to be professional artists...and certainly not academicians.

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/58/13358-004-3C49C73B.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic-art/511208/4079/The-Royal-Academy-of-Arts-mezzotint-by-Richard-Earlom-after&usg=__fVsR25opEyWVgRwD1QNVIHaJQWE=&h=300&w=441&sz=49&hl=en&start=9&tbnid=J0-8jGPKvOpF4M:&tbnh=86&tbnw=127&prev=/images%3Fq%3DRoyal%2BAcademy%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den
#22 - March 08, 2009, 12:32 PM
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SB

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There were quite a few female Academic artists (like Vigée-Le Brun), but that entire section of art history is pretty much overlooked in art history curricula.  Quel dommage.
#23 - March 08, 2009, 12:42 PM

m_stiefvater

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Don't forget Rosa Bonheur!
#24 - March 09, 2009, 06:30 AM

SB

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Don't forget Rosa Bonheur!

(An academic!)  Then there's Marie Guilhelmine Benoist, a very talented pupil of David.  And Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau was the technical equal of her famous French husband.  And the list goes on ...

Another awesome, well-known American artist (in sculpture) is Anna Hyatt Huntington.  Her "Joan of Arc" in NYC is amazing.

Thanks for this thread!
#25 - March 09, 2009, 08:25 PM

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WOW, such good names here. Many I have not yet considered. Thank you so much for the input.
#26 - March 20, 2009, 06:32 AM
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JoS

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And there is Mary Cassett too--a well respected impressionist.
#27 - May 12, 2009, 03:08 PM

Zuzus Petals

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I was an art history major and attended a women's college so I probably got more info on this subject than most:)

It seems the 20th c had the most well known and in terms of photography many women shined:

Dorothea Lange
Diane Arbus
Lee Miller
Berenice Abbot

They are others but these I remember the most.

Louise Nevelson, Helen Frankenthaler and Sonja Delaunay were discussed quite a bit, and good ole Grandma Moses was not forgotten either :smile


Mary
#28 - May 23, 2009, 07:38 AM

Barbara Eveleth

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Lee Krasner...Action Jackson's wife

(they kind of trickle in don't they)
#29 - May 23, 2009, 07:50 AM

Zuzus Petals

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Lee Krasner...Action Jackson's wife

(they kind of trickle in don't they)

Yes, that is true. I just read about Vanessa Bell the other day and I forgot about Dora Carrington, which was made into a movie awhile ago.
#30 - May 23, 2009, 12:42 PM

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