Last fall I began posting a painting every Wednesday on Facebook: partially because I just finished my M.A. and still wanted an excuse to research, and partially because a student of mine had posted some paintings by Ángeles Santos, and I wanted more posts like that in my clickbait feed.
Everyone knows the Ninja Turtles of art history, but there’s so many artists that fly under the mainstream radar and, unsurprisingly, there’s also a gender bias in the selection of the “greats”. So I set myself a simple task: one woman and one painting, once a week. And within that to try to reflect some measure of diversity of style and background.
Without further ado: here’s the first half year, organized by vague geographic area and in chronological order!
no. 3: living! artist Wangechi Mutu: Kenyan-born, Brooklyn-based, sometimes categorized as Afrofuturist, with one of my all-time favorite quotes about the interaction between art and social influence: “Art allows you to imbue the truth with a sort of magic… so it can infiltrate the psyches of more people, including those who don’t believe the same things as you.” This is My Strength Lies from 2007. (http://wangechimutu.com)
no. 9: Guan Daosheng, known for her prominence in the history of bamboo painting during the early Yuan dynasty. Appears to have been active as a painter first and then as calligrapher. Focus on bamboo was unusual for a female artist as it was thought to possess more masculine qualities. Often painted it as part of the landscape as opposed to isolated branches. Some of her works received the imperial seal and were taken up into the imperial archives. Included poems with her works and employed humor in their phrasing. Sometimes dedicated works to female patrons. This is “A Bamboo Grove in Mist” (attributed to Guan Daosheng) from ca. 1296-1319.
no. 26: Tokuyama (Ike) Gyokuran, Japanese painter and calligrapher known for contributions to the Nanga (Southern painting) style. Born in 1727, her painting teacher likely gave her the name Gyokuran. Her husband taught her painting in the Chinese influenced Nanga style. Taught her husband poetry in the waka style, her mother and grandmother were notable poets in their own right. Lived in a studio in Kyoto. Gained a reputation for bohemian lifestyle, devoted to making art and living on little money. Painted screens, scrolls and fans. Passed away in 1784. This is a hanging scroll titled “Orchids”.
no. 14: Müfide Kadri, painter and first professional Muslim female art teacher in the Ottoman empire. Began taking painting lessons at the age of 10. Her paintings were exhibited and received awards in Munich. Taught music, art and embroidery at the Istanbul Girls High School and gave private painting lessons to the Sultan’s daughter. Exhibited three works at a major exhibition from the Istanbul Opera Society in 1911. Diagnosed with tuberculosis shortly thereafter and passed away from the disease in her early 20s. This is “Women in the Country / Picnic” from 1910.
no. 21 (International Women’s Day/Free the Nipple edition): Pan Yuliang, painter, said to be the first woman to paint in the Western style in China. Born in Jiangsu province in 1899. Sold into prostitution at the age of 14, after her parents passed away. A customs official bought her freedom, then married her. Studied painting at the Shanghai Art School. Subsequently studied in France and Italy. Would go on to win prizes in Rome, Paris and Belgium. Returned to China in 1929, where she was invited to be a professor and gave several solo exhibitions. Increased criticism of her work in the 30s led her to return to France. Joined the faculty of the École des Beaux Arts and became chairman of the Chinese Art Association. Passed away in 1977. This is “Four beauties after bath (self-portrait)” from 1955.
no. 24: Tina Blau, Austrian landscape painter, known for her contributions to “atmospheric Impressionism”. Born in 1845 into a Jewish family, her father supported her interest in painting. Studied privately as women weren’t allowed to study at the Vienna Academy until 1920. Sold a painting to pay for a trip to Munich, where she continued her studies and widened her influences through trips to Holland, Hungary and Italy. Her painting “Spring at the Prater” was exhibited in the Paris salon in 1883, receiving an “honorable mention” – the only award given to an artist from outside France that year. Subsequently participated regularly in international exhibitions. Converted to protestant Christianity in order to marry the painter Heinrich Lang, also in 1883. They lived in Munich until he passed away. Had solo exhibitions in Munich, Berlin and Leipzig. Taught landscape and still-life painting at the “ladies’ academy” of the women’s art club in Munich. Returned to Vienna in 1891, co-founded the school of art for women and girls in 1897, at which she taught until 1915. Won “Small State Medal in Gold” in 1897 for another painting of the Prater, now lost. Passed away in 1916. This is “View of the Palatine in Rome” from 1886.
no. 8: Hannah Höch, German Dadaist known for her photomontages, born in Gotha and lived most of her life in Berlin. Studied glass design from 1912 to 1914 at Berlin-Charlottenburg’s school of applied arts. Brief stint in Red Cross before enrolling in a graphic arts class. Worked at a publisher designing knitting and other patterns from 1916-1926. Claimed that the idea for photomontages came from cut and paste images that soldiers sent home from the front. Was the only woman in the Berlin Dada group and exhibited her Dada dolls and photomontages at the First International Dada Fair in 1920. Lived in the Netherlands and returned to Germany only to be banned from exhibiting by the Nazi government. Continued to live and work on the outskirts of Berlin until 1978, right on the border with the GDR in Heiligensee. This is “Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser durch die letzte Weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands” (Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany) from 1919-20.
no. 11: Maria Yakunchikova, painter and embroiderer. Born in Germany and raised in Moscow, turned to the visual arts under the guidance of her sister-in-law. Became associated with the Abramtsevo colony, which looked to return to the roots of Russian style found in medieval era works and traditional handicrafts – a sort of parallel to the Arts and Crafts movement. Studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture beginning in 1885, then worked mostly in Paris after 1890. Moved to Switzerland to try to recover from tuberculosis and then passed away from the disease in 1902 at the age of 32. This is “Little Girl and the Wood Spirits (Leshy)”, which was awarded the Silver Medal at the Paris World Fair in 1900.
No. 5: Mary Nimmo Moore, etcher and painter, born in Scotland and emigrated to the U.S. as a child. Often exhibited as M. Nimmo Moore so that her gender wouldn’t influence potential buyers. Was the only woman among the 65 original members elected to the Painters-Etchers Society of London. Her home in East Hampton became a successful artists colony at the end of the 19th century. This is “Across the Water” from ca. 1880-90
no. 22: Mary Cassatt, painter and printmaker. Born near Pittsburgh, moved to Philadelphia at the start of her schooling. Began studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts when she was 15. A fifth of the students at that time were female, but few wanted to be professional artists. Studied in Paris beginning in 1865 until she returned to Philadelphia during the Franco-Prussian war. Returned to Europe to study in Italy, then traveled to Spain, Belgium and Holland to learn from the works of their old masters. Began to show regularly in the Paris salons in the 1870s. After an invitation from Edgar Degas, exhibited in the Impressionists’ exhibitions as the only American officially affiliated with the group. Played a significant role in the shaping of art collections in the U.S. by advising patrons and collectors. Stopped painting in 1904 due to failing eyesight. Passed away at her country home north of Paris in 1926. This is “The Child’s Bath” from 1893.
no. 10! Alma Woodsey Thomas, painter. Was first fine arts graduate from Howard University. Taught art at a D.C. junior high school for 35 years before retiring and focusing on her own art full-time. Developed her signature abstract style only after retiring, in her 70s, before that she had painted in a realistic genre. Became the first African-American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney in 1972. Her “Resurrection” was the first piece of art by an African-American woman to be displayed in the public rooms of the White House and added to the permanent collection in 2015. This is “Orion” from 1973.
no. 17: Agnes Martin, American painter. Born in Saskatchewan and grew up in Vancouver. Tried out for the Olympics as a swimmer then became a teacher. Moved toWashington to help her sister and received American citizenship in 1950. Received her B.A. and M.A. in fine arts from Columbia, and went back and forth between Taos, New Mexico and New York. After establishing a relationship with the dealer Betty Parsons, moved to a studio community in Coenties Slip in lower Manhattan in 1957. Was hospitalized for her schizophrenia several times. Left New York in 1967, arrived in New Mexico in 1968 and settled on an isolated mesa. Began to exhibit again in 1975 and made a film one year later. Opposed to critical readings of her work, she cancelled an exhibition at the Whitney in 1980 because they wanted to produce a catalogue. Would receive multiple honors over the 90s including the National Medal of the Arts in 1998. Passed away in 2004 at the age of 92. A Google Doodle was made in her honor in 2014. This is “Friendship” from 1963
no. 6: Carmen Herrera, Cuban-born painter, living in New York since the 1950s. Began to paint in her Geometric Minimalist style while living in post-war Paris. Didn’t garner serious attention from the art world until she was in her 90s. Her first solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art opened in September. She is 101 years old. This is “Friday” from 1978
no. 19: Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Australian Aboriginal (from Alhalkere) painter. Worked with animals on farms in the area for most of her life. Trained in the arts as part of creating designs for women’s ceremonies. Began with batik in the 80s and then moved to painting at the end of the decade. Over her 8 year career as a professional painter, before she passed away in 1996, she created over 3000 paintings. Had several solo exhibitions in the 90s. Her painting “Earth’s Creation” became the most valuable work from an Aboriginal artist when it sold for over 1 million Australian dollars in 2007. This is “Big Yam” from 1996.
no. 23: Lygia Clark, Brazilian artist known for her paintings, interactive sculptures and installations. Born in 1920, moved to Rio de Janeiro to study with landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx in 1947. Began studying and living in Paris in the early 50s. Co-founded the Neo-Concrete art movement in Rio in 1959. Created a series of “Critters” sculptures that spectators were invited to rearrange. Said she was abandoning art in the mid 60s, began work with “relational objects”. Also turned toward investigating art therapy. Taught at the Sorbonne in the 70s. Passed away in Rio in 1988. This is an untitled work from 1956.
no. 18: Saint Catherine of Bologna, painter and patron saint of artists. Born into aristocracy in 1413, served as lady-in-waiting beginning at age nine and received her education, including training in drawing and illumination, at court in Ferrara. Entered the convert of Corpus Domini at Ferrara in her late teens. Founded her own monastery of the order of the Poor Clares together with other young women from the convent. Returned to Bologna to found and serve as abbess of another monastery of the same order 24 years later. After her death in 1463, graveside miracles were said to occur before her body was exhumed, found to be “incorrupt”, and put on display in the chapel of her monastery in Bologna, where it remains to this day. Her works include hymns, poems, frescoes and the “Treatise on the 7 Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare”. This is “Madonna and Child with Fruit”.
no. 1: one painting every Wednesday: beginning with the woman who made me want to study art history, before I figured out it was going to focus on lot of dead white men. you might also know her from her Judith Slaying Holofernes. Artemisia Gentileschi. This is her self portrait “as a female martyr” from 1615
no. 12: Elisabetta Sirani, painter, lived in Bologna. Taught by her father and took over his workshop after he stopped painting due to his arthritis. Included her sisters and 12 other women in the workshop, and produced over 200 works over 13 years. Became a full member of Rome’s Accademia di San Luca. Died suddenly at the age of 27. This is “Portia Wounding Her Thigh” from 1664.
no. 25: Rosalba Carriera, Venetian portraitist, known for her innovations with pastels and contribution to development of the Rococo style.
Born in 1675, learned lace making from her mother. Her first-known pastel portrait is from 1700. Accepted into Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1705 on the strength of her miniature paintings. Lived with her sister, who also worked as her assistant, and widowed mother on the Grand Canal, except for one year in Paris. Was visited by many patrons from European nobility, especially those on the Grand Tour. Served as inspiration to generations of women artists in Europe, though she only had three students. Her sister passed away in 1737. Lost her eyesight at the end of the 1740s and passed away in 1757. This is a portrait of the English politician, and art historian, Horace Walpole from ca. 1741.
no. 15: Remedios Varo Uranga, Spanish-Mexican painter. Copied her father’s technical drawings while they traveled around Spain and North Africa for his work as a hydraulic engineer. Educated at convent schools and entered the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid at the age of 15. Moved to Barcelona, came closer to the Surrealists and exhibited with a group called the Logicophobists. Moved to Paris and took part in the International Surrealist exhibitions in Paris and Amsterdam. Fled Nazi occupation to Mexico City and worked in commercial art before taking up painting again. Held her first solo exhibition in 1955 and her career only continued to gain momentum before she passed away suddenly from a heart attack in 1963. This is “Vegetarian Vampires” from 1962.
no. 4: Known for her signed knives, Flemish-born Clara Peeters became the first prominent female painter of Dutch Realism in the 17th century. Of course still lifes were particularly appropriate for women because they wouldn’t have to study anatomy to execute them. Anyways, an exhibition of Peeters’ works opened at the Prado Museum Madrid yesterday (#200yearsislongenough – it’s their first ever dedicated to a woman)! This is “Still Life with Nuts, Candy and Flowers” from ca. 1611. Look at the metal carafe on the right to see the artist’s reflection.
no. 7: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, miniaturist and portraitist, one of the four women (that was the limit) admitted into the French Royal Academy in May 1783. Although her patrons were mostly from the upper echelons of Paris society, she did not flee the French Revolution and sought a new definition of her vocation by focusing on education for women. She also painted portraits of the members of the National Assembly, including Robespierre. Many of her portraits were still destroyed during the Terror in 1793. She continued to campaign for women, arguing that the academy should be reopened to them during the early 1790s, and exhibiting in the salons until 1800. This is “Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Marie Gabrielle Capet and Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond” from 1785.
no. 16: Rosa Bonheur, French animalier, painter of animals. Born in Bordeaux and began training as an artist with her father at 13. Frequented “male” places like the horse fairs and slaughterhouses to better understand her subject matter and later wrote “I was forced to recognize that the clothing of my sex was a constant bother. That is why I decided to solicit the authorization to wear men’s clothing from the prefect of police.” Debuted at the Pairs Salon in 1841, and experienced success not only at home but also in the UK and U.S. She also took over the directorship of her father’s school. Tired of the fame, she eventually moved out of Paris to set up near Fontainebleau in 1859. Received multiple gold medals for her paintings and was awarded with the cross of the Legion of Honor in 1865. Passed away in 1899 at the age of 77 leaving behind hundreds of paintings which had not yet been shown in public. This is possibly her best-known work: “The Horse Fair”, from 1852-55, and which she referred to as her “Parthenon frieze” at a size of 8 x 16.5 feet (2.4 x 5m).
no. 13: Berthe Morisot, French Impressionist painter. Received a private art education that included copying paintings at the Louvre. Began working in “plein air” in 1860. Two of her landscape paintings were shown in the Salon de Paris in 1864, when she was 23. Participated regularly in the Salon until the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. Works were judged as among the best by critics at both the Salon and the Impressionist exhibitions. Currently holds the rank as fourth highest-priced female artist, after “After Lunch” sold for $10.9 million at auction in 2013, her works also sold well during her lifetime. This is “The Cradle” from 1872, which was shown at the first Impressionist exhibition and then purchased by the Louvre in 1930.
no. 20: Elisabeth Thompson, British painter, especially of history paintings. Born in Switzerland and grew up in Italy, where she received some painting training. Entered the Female School of Art in London in 1866. First achieved notoriety with the extremely popular painting “The Roll Call” in 1874. Moved with her husband to various military bases around the British Empire and continued to paint and exhibit at the Royal Academy, but was never admitted as a member. Retired with him to Ireland and continued to paint in the same style and on the same scale through the First World War and into the 20s. Passed away in 1933 at the age of 86. This is “Scotland Forever” from 1881.
no.2: Leonora Carrington, sculptor and painter, and generally awesome human being. This is The Giantess from c.1947.