Within this text, I’ll be investigating the work and artistic cultures of women artists through-out the period between late 18th to 20th century. I’ll be asking myself why through-out this time era have female artists been crafting and producing various types of art, whether it’s feminine art such as weaving or something more masculine pieces such as woodwork without any major recognition. Why have they been brushed aside and under recognized? I’ll be taking a closer look at individual women artist’s that will have faced issues in their personal careers whether it to be gender biases, social and political prospective issues and will be exploring the critical culture through how their work was perceived and patronized.
This subject was just pure curiosity for me at first but I’ve found myself wanting to go more in depth into finding out more about these forgotten artists, questioning myself where are all the great women artists began and their journeys throughout the art world.
Even now after reading in a recent article that after an examination of the art world, every artist in the top 100 auction sales last year was indeed a man with just 8% of public art in Central London being created by women. This to me personally as a future female artist quite astounding to realize that we, female artists, are still clearly facing issues. So what does it mean to be a woman in art?
With constantly shifting political landscapes and women’s rights campaigns happening all around the world, how are women artists going about addressing their rights and identities within their work and beyond? It’s not like we can just re-write the history books.
I’ve been looking into a few artists whom I’ll be researching further into. Georgia O’Keeffe is one of my favorite female artists and one of which I’ve had the pleasure to see her work at the barbican exhibition ”modern couples”. It was her relationship with photographer Alfred Stieglitz who introduced her to the public eye This sadly seems to be a recurrence throughout this time period of women artists to have been recognized through having greater husband artists. I’ll be tackling the issues raised within my question through primary and secondary research, I’ll be visiting exhibitions, reading various documents and books to establish why female artists have endured gender inequality throughout their careers.
Recently there has been a great number of exhibitions that have been showcasing some of the most Greatest artists, and rightly so, that has been long overdue time for their public recognition. A few months ago< I had the pleasure of viewing the now famous artist Frida Khalo's work in the Tate Gallery. I had come to the conclusion that she would most definitely had been a prime example of the artists that wasn't given the recognision that was much deserved whilst still alive. Frida Kahlo grew up in an extremely political world but was privileged to grow up in a middle class family. This had its benefits regarding her education and her family encouraged her personal growth. However, She married the famous Diego Rivera who was a Mexican painter! This made Kahlo essentially invisible as an artist and remained hidden in the shadow of her husband.
An article written for Fridka in 1933 – titled “Wife of the Master Mural Painter Gleefully Dabbles in Works of Art” appeared to have showen no respect towards the aritst and was clearly taken for a joke! They patronized her with this headline in a very demoralizing way speaking down on her. This shows how the media portrayed her and many other female artists alike. This sadly happened on several occasions. It’s seems that Kahlo faced many obstacles in her life while she was trying to persue her career as an established painter.
Her paintings tackled gender equality alongside other devastating subjects very personal to herself. Gender was the primary topic that flowed strongly throughout her work. Her self-portraits involved feminine and masculine aspects. Her work continuingly showed the struggles that Khalo would have faced along with other artists around the same time period. This was around the time when women began to fight for suffrage, equal work¬ing conditions and property rights. Women only had a few privileges around this time and men were seen as the dominant sex. It was then that Frida a now political activist, a feminist, decided to change how people would look at her. Kahlo attended a co-educational school, something that rarely happened and started to paint in such a way that it was informing, brutal and true to herself. It comes to be such a shock now that over 60 years later she is only re-claiming the recognition she truly deserved.