Chapters 24 & 25 explored modern and contemporary artists working after World War II and this is a time when many more women are able to work full time as artists. For this discussion question, you’ll be looking at the work of important female artists. Women historically (and still today) have encountered barriers that prevented them from having the same artistic success as their male counterparts. Reasons for this include:
- a historical lack of access to formal training or art schools
- women were often not accepted into art schools until the late 1700s and historically not allowed to sketch or paint nude until the late 1800s
- the medium, subject matter, or genre of artworks they were ‘allowed’ to work in was limited
- usually to still lifes, landscapes, or small-scale portraits and encouraged to work in watercolors or pastels, not oils or on a large scale
- becoming an artist meant time away from your family which many societies frowned upon
- it was difficult to find galleries and museums that would show their work and when their work was sold, there was often a large gender disparity in value
- archival material (letters, journals, etc) and artwork by women were less likely to be saved so this makes it difficult to do proper research
As a result we see only a handful of women were working successfully as full-time artists during the 16th – 19th centuries and few entries in art history dedicated to them (yet many more became important art patrons). Things get a bit better in the 20th century and are improving in the 21st century but the art world still has a very long way to go. Maybe you’ve noticed this in our textbook?
- Watch the two videos linked below about ‘fierce women’ in art history from The Art Assignment on YouTube (about 20 minutes total)
- Select one artist and one artwork by that artist from either of the videos to research more.
- While the will be overlap in the artists, the artworks themselves are first come, first served so there shouldn’t be any overlap within your small groups.
- You may ‘call dibs’ and reserve a work by commenting with which one you’d like to write on. But remember to be respectful and post within 24 hours of reserving it.
- In 300 to 400 words (ok to go over), include the following briefly:
- explain who your artist is and what her artistic specialty is (still lifes, portraits, photojournalism, illustration, etc).
- describe the one work of art you selected by your artist – what is going on in it, what are its formal characteristics, any symbolism, etc.
- why you picked the artist and/or artwork that you did and one or two things you found interesting or intriguing about the work or your artist as a result.