Mothers of Invention
In 1971 the art historianLinda Nochlin asked, "Why have there been no great women artists?" Let's start with the issue of opportunity: It's rather difficult to stand at an easel when someone's foot is on your neck. There's also the issue of who's determining what is art, and what is great art, and our conditioning to accept that determination. How many of us, for instance, sat through art history lectures without ever once hearing the names Artemisia Gentileschi, Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun, or Rosa Bonheur?
Let me take a stab in the dark here and say that much of the art made at the dawn of human civilization was made by women. What do you want to bet that the time- and culture-spanning language of geometric abstraction was invented by women? It's a tradition that continues with classic Amish quilts, contemporary Gee's Bend quilts, Navajo weaving, painted pots and woven baskets, which have long been crafted by anonymous makers but whose makers are now known and followed—like the Pueblo potter Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and the Gee's Bend community that includes members of the Bendolph, Pettway and Witherspoon familities, some recently deceased, other still alive and quilting. But I'm digressing before I start. The following list of painters and sculptors is modest, but it's a start.
What you see are exhibitions that I have visited and reported on. It's a list that will continue to grow in this new incarnation of my blog.
Live links underlined
The Women of Post-War Abstraction, Part 1
The Women of Post-War Abstraction, Part 2
P.S. Read An Illustrated Guide to Linda Nochlin's "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" by Tiernan MOrgan and Lauren Purje, published in Hyperallergic in 2017