My Abstract Art for Quiltmakers class (both real and virtual!) is based on the work of 20th and 21st century female abstract artists. I chose female artists because, since their work is often not well known, it has a freshness and a vibrancy to it that pulls you in to look further. After all, who wants to see another blessed soup can??!! We all love something novel.
There are many reasons why female artists are little known. In her book Women, Art and Society, Whitney Chadwick explores several centuries of feminine artists. Even though excellent women painters have always existed, academies, such as the Royal Academy in England, preferred to relegate them to the subjects of paintings, rather than the makers of paintings. Art history books, museum collections, auction prices etc all are evidence of a complete and utter lack of respect for work by women. Alas, the lack of recognition was widespread: not just in art, but politics, religion – even sport – though that is certainly beginning to improve as people realize that intelligence and elegance are at least the equal of power and aggression.
Economics, as ever, have always been a factor: paintings by men have always sold for more than paintings by women. And, of course, books by men were more likely to be published (consider Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell), and also musical compositions. Sometimes the works would be attributed to men when they were actually created by women. Undoubtedly the same pattern holds true for all the arts, sciences (look at the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA) and other areas of knowledge.
Whatever the psychological, social and economic reasons for this, it does mean that there is a whole world of work produced by women out there which is likely to be new and inspiring for us! Alas, we really can’t change history – though, of course, as many have noticed, the writing of history is vey fickle and changeable. We probably have never known and will never know the exact “truth” of most that has happened to human beings. Our personal perspective always distorts, usually unintentionally – but sometimes very intentionally – but that’s another issue!
So, whenever you research art….whatever the era: the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Age of Reason, the Victorian paintings, modern and abstract art, post modern art and into the present day – look for The Women!! Their work is strong, it’s tender, it’s fresh, it’s waiting to be discovered. Let’s create a demand for it! And I’m still waiting for women to rule the world!
If you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth
PS – I’d bet that far more women than men take online classes and far more women are active in pursuing more knowledge in retirement…..the men are in front of the telly, the women are learning!!!
As you know I teach online at the Academy of Quilting – I have several classes, alas no men (unless of course they’re masquerading under a female name!!! Now that would be a nice reversal of events wouldn’t it?).
If you’ve never taken an online class, by the way, and would like to check one out free of charge, no obligation (as they say) – Ruth Arbee, the Dean of the Academy is running one right now: