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The plan for this topic is to be about female artists - painters, sculptures and photographers primarily and I encourage people to contribute to this.  In the past women and girls had been discouraged from becoming professional artists and even when they did so and even when they became well known in their own times, they were many times forgotten.  For example, H. W. Janson’s “History of Art” was first published in 1962.  It is described in a New York Times article as “a seven-pound, 750 page tome filled with pictures and prose, remembered by tens of thousands of liberal-arts graduates simply as Janson’s - the basic college textbook on the world’s great painting and sculpture.”  Yet, “. . . no female artists were mentioned in earlier editions, except for an anonymous Greek vase painter.”  The book was updated by the author’s son to include women in 1984.  

Natalia Goncharova, the first artist to be covered here, was born in Tula, Russia (less than 100 miles south of Moscow) on June 21, 1881.  As a child she moved with her family to Moscow and at age 17 entered the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.  In September of 1913, in Moscow, the artist held a one woman exhibition.  Three months before the start of the First World War Natalia Goncharova traveled to Paris where she designed costumes and scenery for the Ballet Russe  “Le cog d’or.”  She also did work for The Firebird ballet, as well as for Bronislava Nijinska’s Le Renard and Les Noces.  

Here is a 9 minute long video of 88 of Natalia Goncharova’s works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7J5dJ4N7a4, with music.  

This next link goes to an image of the artist’s back cloth for the 1926 revival of The Firebird: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O129761/backcloth-natalia-goncharova/

Finally here is a two minute video of excerpts from the ballet “Le cog d’or.”  It starts with a short interview with the dancer Anna Volkova.  The performance took place in Australia and is from 1940: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYRiHBzfkDU.

Tom,

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24 minutes ago, Tom47 said:

Yet, “. . . no female artists were mentioned in earlier editions, except for an anonymous Greek vase painter.”  The book was updated by the author’s son to include women in 1984.  

My 1969 edition of Janson includes a 10-page "Postscript: the Meeting of West and East." The book title should have been The History of Western Art by Men.

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Natalia Goncharova is indeed a major artist – you can see traces of her influence in New York gallery painting today. We mustn't forget that the Soviet Union of the 1920s was a very encouraging climate for women artists – for Lyubov Popova and Alexandra Exter (who also did sets and costumes for ballet), as well as Goncharova. From the Tate show The short life of the equal woman

Quote

In the early 1920s, along with the Bolshevik campaign for the emancipation of women under socialism, the constructivist refusal of conventional notions of artistic genius – traditionally associated with masculinity – and its rejection of the hierarchy between fine and utilitarian arts – women were more often linked with the latter – facilitated the unusual, widespread participation of women artists in the young Soviet art world.

https://www.tate.org.uk/tate-etc/issue-15-spring-2009/short-life-equal-women

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What a great idea for a topic, Tom47. Here is a piece on Artemisia Gentileschi, who didn't make the cut for Janson, apparently.

Quote

Artemisia’s life story has inspired more than one fictional reimagining, beginning in 1947, with a work by Anna Banti—the pen name of the Italian novelist and critic Lucia Lopresti, who was married to Roberto Longhi. (Susan Sontag, in an admiring essay from 2004, wrote that Banti’s protagonist is “liberated by disgrace.”) A 1997 film, by the French director Agnès Merlet, made the questionable suggestion that Tassi was a partially welcome seducer. Five years later, the American writer Susan Vreeland published a novel that hewed to the feminist line of Artemisia’s rape as a defining trauma. (“I stepped up two steps and took my usual seat opposite Agostino Tassi, my father’s friend and collaborator. My rapist. . . . His black hair and beard were overgrown and wild. His face, more handsome than he deserved, had the color and hardness of a bronze sculpture.”) Joy McCullough’s 2018 novel, “Blood Water Paint,” captured Artemisia’s perspective in charged language:

 

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Another cohort that might be of interest are the "women of Ninth Street" – Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning (who also wrote about ballet), Lee Krasner and Grace Hartigan – all of whom held their own at the "Club" of Abstract-Expressionists of the 1950s. Frankenthaler's complex woodcuts are currently on view at the Dulwich gallery in London and a large (underlit) Joan Mitchell show is on display here in San Francisco, after which it will move onto Baltimore and Paris.

Ninth Street Women

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Ninth_Street_Women/afQlCwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=ninth+street+women&printsec=frontcover

Frankenthaler at Dulwich –

https://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Nice talk on Mitchell's work at SF MOMA by Stanley Whitney –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_bxpmwYdqg

Edited by Quiggin
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California, I don’t know very much about non-western art.  Do you know of any non-western women artists?

Quiggin, thank you for your input both in regard to Soviet women and the "women of Ninth Street.”  I have not yet looked into your links, but I will.

Dirac, Artemisia Gentileschi's life is interesting.  That incident is reportedly what inspired her painting of Judith Beheading Holofernes, which is very dramatic and contains two active women.  And thank you for the compliment on the topic.

I’m pleasantly surprised at the response to this.  Also, I tried to input the image of the Firebird’s back cloth, but it didn’t work.  Can anyone tell me how to do this?

Tom,

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19 minutes ago, Tom47 said:

Also, I tried to input the image of the Firebird’s back cloth, but it didn’t work.  Can anyone tell me how to do this?

You can't imbed an image into your posts, but you can link to an image.  You can upload an image to your own account on one of the reputable photo sites and link to it , as long as that site doesn't spam people who click the link.

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1 hour ago, Quiggin said:

Another cohort that might be of interest are the "women of Ninth Street" – Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning (who also wrote about ballet), Lee Krasner and Grace Hartigan – all of whom held their own at the "Club" of Abstract-Expressionists of the 1950s. Frankenthaler's complex woodcuts are currently on view at the Dulwich gallery in London and a large (underlit) Joan Mitchell show is on display here in San Francisco, after which it will move onto Baltimore and Paris.

Ninth Street Women

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Ninth_Street_Women/afQlCwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=ninth+street+women&printsec=frontcover

Frankenthaler at Dulwich –

https://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Nice talk on Mitchell's work at SF MOMA by Stanley Whitney –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_bxpmwYdqg

Definitely. All formidable women.

I have been meaning to get to the Mitchell show.....

Christmas Card to Grace Hartigan

There’s no holly, but there is

the glass and granite towers

and the white stone lions

and the pale violet clouds. And

the great tree of balls in

Rockefeller Plaza is public.

 

Christmas is green and general

like all great works of the

imagination, swelling from minute

private sentiments in the desert,

a wreath around our intimacy

like children’s voices in a park.

 

For red there is our blood

which, like your smile, must be

protected from spilling into

generality by secret meanings,

the lipstick of life hidden

in a handbag against violations.

 

Christmas is the time of cold air

and loud parties and big expense,

but in our hearts flames flicker

answeringly, as on old-fashioned

trees. I would rather the house

burn down than our flames go out.

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2 hours ago, Drew said:

Louise Fishman (1939-2021) is an interesting figure to me--also linked to abstract expressionism and an explicitly feminist painter as well:

Both Louise Fishman and Joan Mitchell were represented by Robert Miller Gallery and later followed John Cheim to Cheim & Read. Some very nice catalogues on their works are available to page through online here –

https://www.cheimread.com/publications

 

6 hours ago, dirac said:

Christmas Card to Grace Hartigan

There’s no holly, but there is

the glass and granite towers

and the white stone lions

and the pale violet clouds. And

the great tree of balls in

Rockefeller Plaza is public.

 

Poem Read at Joan Mitchell's

I hope there will be more

more drives to Bear mountain and searches for hamburgers,

more evenings avoiding the latest Japanese movies and watching

Helen Vinson and Warner Baxter in Vogues of 1938 instead,

more discussions in lobbies of the respective greatnesses of

Diana Adams and Allegra Kent,

more sunburns and more half-mile swims in which Joe beats me

as Jane [Freilicher] watches, lotion-covered and sleepy, more arguments over

Faulkner's inferiority to Tolstoy while sand gets into my bathing

trunks ...

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8 hours ago, Tom47 said:

California, I don’t know very much about non-western art.  Do you know of any non-western women artists?

Quiggin, thank you for your input both in regard to Soviet women and the "women of Ninth Street.”  I have not yet looked into your links, but I will.

Dirac, Artemisia Gentileschi's life is interesting.  That incident is reportedly what inspired her painting of Judith Beheading Holofernes, which is very dramatic and contains two active women.  And thank you for the compliment on the topic.

I’m pleasantly surprised at the response to this.  Also, I tried to input the image of the Firebird’s back cloth, but it didn’t work.  Can anyone tell me how to do this?

Tom,

Hung Liu was a prominent Chinese-American female artist who died just a few months ago:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/22/arts/hung-liu-artist-dead.html

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California, thank you for the link.  The photographer Alexia Webster from South Africa seems interesting.  

Drew, thank you for the link to Louise Fishman.  

Aurora, thank you for referencing Hung Liu, I looked her up. 

Tom,

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On 10/8/2021 at 12:12 PM, Tom47 said:

For example, H. W. Janson’s “History of Art” was first published in 1962.  It is described in a New York Times article as “a seven-pound, 750 page tome filled with pictures and prose, remembered by tens of thousands of liberal-arts graduates simply as Janson’s - the basic college textbook on the world’s great painting and sculpture.”  Yet, “. . . no female artists were mentioned in earlier editions, except for an anonymous Greek vase painter.”  The book was updated by the author’s son to include women in 1984.  

 

Times have fortunately changed!

More than half of the current authors/editors of Janson's are women.

One of them (Frima Fox Hofrichter) is a specialist on the important dutch baroque artist Judith Leyster.

For more on Leyster: https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.1485.html

 

Artemisia Gentileschi, who features prominently in the exhibition I mentioned earlier at the Wadsworth,  is now featured in all of the major art history survey texts: Gardner and Stokstad, as well as Janson.

Edited by aurora
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5 hours ago, aurora said:

Times have fortunately changed!

For female writers and painters alike. You don't have to call yourself George any more, for one thing. 

Thanks for those links, aurora. Gentileschi appears to be having something of a moment. 

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On 10/8/2021 at 6:39 PM, Quiggin said:

Both Louise Fishman and Joan Mitchell were represented by Robert Miller Gallery and later followed John Cheim to Cheim & Read. Some very nice catalogues on their works are available to page through online here –

https://www.cheimread.com/publications

 

Poem Read at Joan Mitchell's

I hope there will be more

more drives to Bear mountain and searches for hamburgers,

more evenings avoiding the latest Japanese movies and watching

Helen Vinson and Warner Baxter in Vogues of 1938 instead,

more discussions in lobbies of the respective greatnesses of

Diana Adams and Allegra Kent,

more sunburns and more half-mile swims in which Joe beats me

as Jane [Freilicher] watches, lotion-covered and sleepy, more arguments over

Faulkner's inferiority to Tolstoy while sand gets into my bathing

trunks ...

I know it's a longish poem, but how could you leave this out?

Quote

 

dreary February of the exhaustion from parties and the exceptional de-

                sire for spring which the ballet alone, by extending its run,

                has made bearable, dear New York City Ballet company, you are

                quite a bit like a wedding yourself!

 

I loved that Stanley Whitney clip. "A bad day is a good day." Wonderful.

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1 hour ago, dirac said:

For female writers and painters alike. You don't have to call yourself George any more, for one thing. 

Thanks for those links, aurora. Gentileschi appears to be having something of a moment. 

My pleasure!

I'd argue (not to nitpick!) that she's having more than a moment.

That at this point, she is firmly considered one of the "greats" in "the canon." Of course these things can and do shift over time, but her work is superb.

The major Met show on her and her (far inferior) father was held all the way back in 2002! https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2002/orazio-and-artemisia-gentileschi

 

For those who are interested, a recent (affordable! not a given for art history tomes) book is that of noted feminist art historian Mary Garrard:

https://www.amazon.com/Artemisia-Gentileschi-Feminism-Modern-Renaissance/dp/1789142024/ref=pd_lpo_2?pd_rd_i=1789142024&psc=1

 

The story of her rape and the subsequent trial has sometimes overshadowed her remarkable work, but that shouldn't be the case!

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I have thought about starting this topic for a while, but hesitated because I felt that few people would respond to it and possibly some would be negative about it.  However, I am very pleased that there have been so many comments.  All positive.  Also, I am happy that people have been replying to each other.  So, I want people to know that even if I don’t reply to every comment I still appreciate them and that I read them all.  

Aurora, I was happy to read your comment that “Times have fortunately changed!  More than half of the current authors/editors of Janson’s are women.”  Also, I was happy to read your and Dirac’s conversation on Artemisia Gentileschi and other things.  I hope that these improvements will translate into more female artists in museums and galleries and higher prices paid for the work done by female artists.

Tom,

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Edmonia Lewis was born in Rensselaer County next to Albany, NY on July 4,1844, to a mother who was a member of the Chippewa also known as the Ojibwa tribe and a father who was a free man of African descent.  She was given the name “Wildfire” by her mother.  Starting in 1859 she attended Oberlin College in Ohio and in 1863 she went to live in Boston.  While there she produced many sculptures including a bust of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the white leader of the all black 54th Massachusetts Infantry.  Next she moved to Rome, Italy in 1865.  

In 1867, two years after the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery, Edmonia Lewis sculpted her “Morning of Liberty, Forever Free” This work show two former slaves with their chains broken.  Both figures look up hopefully, with the male figure standing and the female figure kneeling as if praying.  The man has his foot on a ball attached to a broken chain expressing a feeling of triumph.  Other works by the artist include “Hagar in the Wilderness” (1875), “Hiawatha’s Marriage” (1874) and the “Old Indian Arrowmaker and his Daughter” (1866 to 1872), a depiction of an older parental figure passing on knowledge to his offspring.  Here are photographs of six of Edmonia Lewis’ works: https://www.theartstory.org/artist/lewis-edmonia/artworks/.

The following from Whitney Chadwick’s book “Women, Art and Society” third edition, page 30 indicates how much Edmonia Lewis wanted to avoid criticism that as a woman she was not strong enough to engage in the art of sculpture: “While most foreign sculptors in Italy hired native artisans to enlarge their clay and wax models in marble, Lewis for some time insisted on doing the carving herself.  This hands-on approach greatly impressed the suffragist Laura Curtis Bullard, editor of the periodical Revolution, who wrote: ‘So determined is she to avoid all occasion for detraction, that she even ‘puts up’ her clay; a work which scarcely any male sculptor does for himself.”  

According to the Smithsonian American Art Museum Edmonia Lewis’ The Death of Cleopatra (1876) was “. . . exhibited to great acclaim at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and critics raved that it was the most impressive American sculpture in the show.”  It is an impressive sculpture, but despite this, the work and the artist seems to have been soon forgotten.  For a long time the sculpture was believed to have been lost, but eventually was found in a salvage yard.  It is now, after being restored, in the Smithsonian.  Here is a short 6 minute video showing The Death of Cleopatra in detail with a photograph of the artist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK8Vj03U874.

Tom,

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The artist Dame Laura Knight was born in Derbyshire, England in 1877.  At the age of 13 she entered the Nottingham School of Art with a scholarship.  She painted a wide variety of subjects including those of ballerinas and circus performers.  During the Second World War she produced a number of paintings depicting women in the military.   

According to an article from Sotheby's Auction house the artist “grew up impoverished” and “As a female, Knight was excluded from life drawing classes and only allowed to study the nude from plaster casts.”  A controversy occurred over the artist's painting Self Portrait with Nude (1913) in which she shows herself in the process of depicting a nude female model.  Sotheby's article called this painting “historically significant” in that it “challenged the widespread barring of female students from life drawing classes,” and that “The work proved too daring for the Royal Academy, who rejected it.”  Furthermore, a critic described the painting as “vular.”  Here is a link to the article: https://www.sothebys.com/en/articles/dame-laura-knight.  The first picture is a portrait of the artist done by her husband, with the next five being ones produced by Laura Knight.  I feel the painting of a ballerina (fourth down) is particularly good.

The discouraging or forbidding of female artists from studying from the nude, both male and female, is one factor that hindered woman artists.  It is generally felt that practice with the nude is necessary to fully understand and depict the clothed body.  Second, historical paintings were considered the highest form of art and in many cases this required the depiction of the nude.

Here is a 3 ½ minute video of Dame Knight’s paintings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uz17hIt_y24Self Portrait with a Model is shown in the video.

This link goes to 43 of the artist’s work:

https://www.wikiart.org/en/laura-knight/all-works#!#filterName:all-paintings-chronologically,resultType:detailed

Of particular interest to me are:

Les Sylphides, 

The Ballet Shoe, 

Romany Belles, 

Corporal Daphne Pearson, 

Corporal J. M. Robins, 

A Balloon Site Coventry, 

Ruby Loftus screwing a Breech-ring, 

The Nuremberg Trial, 

A Dressing Room at Drury Lane. 

The Gypsy (Romani).  This last picture reminds me of Humphrey Bogart's, Charlie Allnutt from The African Queen

This link goes to an image of the artist's work “Physical Training at Witley Camp.”  I particularly like the building storm clouds intensifying the conflict in the ring, the action shown as one of the boxers lean in, while the other pulls back and the contrast between the curves of the boxers and the overhead clouds with the white straight lines of the ropes enclosing the ring.

And this one goes to an image of her work “Storm Over Our Town.”  Here the artist dramatically shows the might and intensity of nature.

If you are still with me here is a short (3 minute long) documentary of Dame Laura Knight’s wartime paintings, by Dr. Alicia Foster about the artist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZCuQH_dLvY.  Note A Balloon Site Coventry.

Dame Laura Knight was a great artist.

Tom,

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