Where were the artists? Eight books claim their role in history



  • Books justifying the artists buried in the official history proliferate

  • Catalan modernist painters, the first female architect in modern history Plotella Bricci or the surrealist Remedios Varo, live new life in novels and essays

In 2015, young historian Katie Hessel entered an art exhibition and realized that among the thousands of works before her eyes, there was not a single work by a woman. The next thing I thought of was: Can you name 20 female artists? Ten before 1950? Any before 1850? The answer, as sad as it was predictable, was: No.

The other day, Hessel had an announcement similar to what Linda Nochlin had made over 50 years earlier when she queried in her revolutionary essay Why were there no great female artists?. 37 years after the Guerrilla Girls stood in front of the Museum of Modern Art to criticize that the only way for women to enter the museum was to do so naked as if they were Odalisque the great ingres, Things have changed, but little And at a very slow pace. 2023 will be the first year that the Royal Academy of Arts in London will dedicate a solo exhibition to a woman who has in its flagship space, Marina Abramović. And according to a recent YouGov poll compiled by Hessel herself, 30% of Britons are unable to name more than three female artists.

Hessel’s epiphany led her to create a very popular Instagram account (@thegreatwomenartists, with over 300,000 followers and a popular podcast seed) and to write Art history without men (Aticus of Books), an essay covering art history in a biblical manner by EH Gombrich. Its title is, in fact, an ironic nod to the canon art historyIts first edition in 1950 did not include the name of any woman and only sixteen.

From Elisabetta Sirani, the little-known Renaissance artist, to Tracy Emin, the bad girl in… Young British ArtistsAnd the art history It has some healing, just like other titles like Pride and prejudice. About women’s art (Three Sisters) by Amparo Serran de Haro and Africa Cabanellas, Differentiate between Sharia. Feminist Desire and Art History Writing (Exit) by Griselda Pollock OR Women, art and power (Paidós), which includes Nochlin’s famous essay, The Spark That Started the Feminist revolution in art studios.

Architect in Seicento

The truth is, bookstores are full of novels latelyfictional essays and memoirs by women in the art world about whom little or nothing has been written Yet they finally found their moment. It’s a wonderful condition Architect (anagram) of the Italian Melania G. Mazzucco, which tells the life of what is considered the first architect in history, Plautilla Bricci, who lived in the Italian Seicento, in that Rome of popes and plagues full of intrigues and excesses that lends itself well to literature.

Mazzucco has already shown his talent for reconstructing life from imagination in She is very lovable (Anagram), a novel about photographer and writer Anne-Marie W. Schwarzenbach Now he is immersed in the Italian Baroque To tell the true story of the first woman to become a member of the Academy of Saint Luke and responsible (though not initially recognized) for Il Vascello, a magnificent boat-shaped villa built on a hillside in Rome that was destroyed by French forces in the Siege of 1849.

Where are the surrealists?

One of the many Spanish artists forgotten by the law is the painter Remedios Varo (1908-1963), one of the first women to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, passionate partner of Benjamin Perret and a key figure in the surrealist circle. From Paris where he took refuge after the outbreak of war Eligibility. Farrow coincided with Lorca and Dalí in Madrid, and in Paris with Max Ernst, Picasso and André Breton, and after being exiled in 1941 to Mexico to escape the Nazis, formed a strong friendship with two other women of surrealism, the Hungarian photographer Katie. Horna and the English painter Leonora Carrington, with whom she explored esotericism and the occult. The three witches & rdquor; they called themselves.

It is no coincidence that Farrow is, with Carrington, one of the artists buried in the official history of art confirmed by this year’s Venice Biennale aimed at repairing decades of disappearance. And until very recently in the pamphlets of Surrealism, no woman appeared next to Magritte, Dali, Miro, Breton or Man Ray. Farrow is the protagonist The red-haired painter returns to Paris (Alliance), written by Doctor of Art History Ara de Haro. The novel begins in the French capital in 1937, after Farrow arrives with a suitcase full of books and He pays special attention to the women of the surrealist circleand artists such as photographer Dora Maar or painter Jacqueline Lamba, Breton’s first wife.

To save the modernists

Other editorial updates The dust of Catalan artists buried in oblivion He is When gifts should be painted flowers, edited by Salvatella. Its author, Consul Ultra Esteve, writes about the group of female painters that emerged at the end of the nineteenth century in Catalonia in the midst of modernism. Although they came from well-to-do families, they were forbidden to study at La Llotja (how could they attend classes where there were nude models!) and most trained in private academies or workshops run by famous painters. Far from being intimidated by limitations, Many of them specialized in the representation of flowersa very popular genre at the time.

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Oltra builds his book by flower types (there are chapters devoted to peonies, chrysanthemums, or roses) and explains how disdainful the label “flower painters” was at the time, despite the fact that flowers were one of the great subjects of art. Impressionism was one of the great Dutch masters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Names such as Antònia Ferreras, Maria Lluïsa Güell or Lluïsa Vidal appear in the book.

They all also agree (who would have told them) at 100 Deserving Artists (published by Univers) by Elina Norandi, a volume that represents an artistic and literary event: for the first time the names of 102 Catalan artists from 1850 to those born in 1982 are collected, who turned 40 this year. It will seem to us Less talented, less creative, less exciting, less exciting, less cool… If we insist on making history based on equality, artists will always lose out, because society was not like that, Norandi reflects. Therefore, he points out, it is necessary to do everything possible to reverse the situation.



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