Monday, September 27, 2010

Are women supposed to be artists?

hello all of my faithful readers-the question posed, a curious question, but unfortunately still a valid one as we rumble through the 21st century, still unsure of the "place" of women in the artworld. this question came to me at the philadelphia museum which my daughter and i visited on saturday, in search of enlightenment, a little culture, and respite from an unseasonbly warm september day.we viewed the newly gorgeously restored painting of the gross clinic by charles eakins. on the side of the exhibit was a portrait of the artist painted by the artist's wife (whose name god forgive me i didn't note down).it was a fab painting, skillfully executed with a warm and beautiful palette, and it seemed both of its time and at the same time very modern,and it was to my mind more interesting than the "masterpiece" by her husband.on the opposite wall. it just made me want to sit down and have a chat with him in front of a fireplace over tea-he looked very approachable and a little bit like an actor we'd seen around(neither of us could remember who). the most interesting thing though was the blurb about the artist, who had been a student at the pennsylvania academy of fine art, had won all kinds of prestigious awards and then bang, married eakins and put her brushes away until after his death some considerable years later. the blurb gave no reason for this decision, and made no comments about it, but it brought to mind how often this seems to happen, or seemed to happen as if, and it may not be the case at all, there's only room for one artist in the family, and that one artist,more often tan not, seems to be THE MAN. is my thinking skewed or is there really something in this , and by golly is it still happening today in the year 2010? of course one thing leads to another and we are forced to admit that if we see a painting in a museum by a woman we are still surprised(Morisot and Cassatt anyone among all those men), any painting by a woman in any context surrounded by all of those men. i am sure there are far more women represented by galleries, and acquired by both museums and art collectors,but c'mon- don't we still say "and it was by a woman", with that tone of surprise in our voices? i know i do and i consider myself both a woman, and an artist, and i hope that for my daughter's generation that surprise will be less, and that maybe someday, we'll all just be considered artists without any reference to gender(or race or sexual orientation but that's another whole ball of wax). i think there's room enough out there for all of us, and if this seems just too obvious and too done to death, i'm sorry, but this is where i'm at. what do you think? cheers, brigid.

1 comment:

  1. I think you've hit the nail on the head with this one, and I have to admit with a slight pang of shame that I too am guilty of that surprise when I see a work of art done by a woman... We have quite a few little art galleries in the little downtown areas of the Space Coast of Florida, and I love to visit them. The energy is just so amazing. Quiet. Most of the local artists here are women. They are amazing. My favorite little gallery down here is the Fifth Avenue gallery, in downtown Eau Gallie, a district of Melbourne. They do a lot of charity work for women's causes. The last one I attended was the Hope's and Dreams benefit for battered women. I bought a piece done by a man I used to date, he was a very gifted artist. Many of my very favorite works, though, were done by women. They seemed to have a soul that the men's works were lacking.

    You inspired me so much in my formative years, and I'd always wished I had the talent that you have. I've learned to channel it into other areas, needing several outlets for creativity. I'm so glad you have pursued your art, you are a wonderfully gifted artist. I still remember your work, and always loved it.