Women and art

Measuring equality in the art world.

Day three

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Today the first article in the art section in the guardian is about Andrea Corr who is a former singer and now an actor. Maybe my theory about male dominance in the art section might be wrong after all.

The next article is a review of Isla Fisher’s new film Confessions of a Shopaholic.

If we turn the page there is an article about Gerald Finley who stars in John Adam’s opera Doctor Atomic that opens tonight.

In the arts diary there is a fair mix between men and women.


As I’m writing this I’m thinking that it would not be that surprising if the media mostly refer to male artists. “The great women from the past” can not really compete with “The great men from the past” because we do not really know anything about them. I could easily come up with twenty great male artists but when I try to come up with a female artist the only one I can think of is Frida Kahlo. How embarrassing.

The reason to that is probably because when I studied history of art at Stockholm University I dropped out before we had reached the 19th century. I could imagine that the women who painted before then probably had men who took the praise for their paintings.

I say this because I think back on what Germaine Greer wrote in her art comment on Monday. Her Moncalvo painting had just been stolen but the only reason she bought it is because she thought it was one of his daughters who had painted it. Later on Greer says:

“Every art student should know there is no way Rembrandt could have painted all the works attributed to him, but private sceptisim has little expression when we are dealing with public art. The technology needed to authenticate paintings is expensive; no one is going to commit funds to something that could destroy the value of the object of the study.”

I can not imagine that hundreds of years ago when artists, such as Moncalvo, saw that someone had talent would care if they were male or female. They would probably think that the female artist did not deserve any credit for the work she had done, because she was after all a woman.

In our time this has of course changed but we are still “stuck” with the male artists from the past and we probably will be for hundreds of years. History had until recently been written by men about men so there is no surprise that this also reflects in the art world.

Greer also mentions Tintoretto in her article and says that no one will ever say that his daughter who worked with him for 15 years also helped him with his paintings and probably painted some of them herself.

It makes me angry to think about all those talented women who never got, and probably never will get, any recognition for the work they did.
It is extremely important that female artists are featured in the media and gain the respect that they deserve.


Written by womenandart

February 25, 2009 at 3:39 pm

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