Why are all the great artists male? Over the centuries in male-driven societies, women have faced many challenges, not only socially but have often not been given the same recognition in the art arena as their male counterparts. Being an artist was an income earning profession, and creativity considered a masculine attribute.Where were the women? In the kitchen, of course, harvesting in the fields and busy raising children.Women have traditionally been the primary carer-givers, and there is nothing like drudgery and domesticity with a pinch of guilt thrown in to stifle creativity.Until relatively recently women have had limited access to academic training and ‘women’s art’ has often been dismissed as ‘Craft’ as opposed to ‘Fine art.’
When Things Changed
Only toward the latter part of the 20th century did female artists begin to overcome the limitations of their gender. The Feminist movements of the 1960’s paved the way for women toward having more freedom of expression and sparked a moment of change for women in art.
But change has been slow, and the art- institutional establishment remained male dominated until the 1970’s. Many challenges are still faced today.Women struggle with being caregivers and simultaneously finding the freedom to pursue creative lives.
Being the Artist & Caregiver
Women often feel guilty of time spent on ‘frivolous’ pursuits like art, in the way of ‘more important things’ like the care of children, partners, and family. We now understand that the duality of being an artist and a caregiver has a positive effect and enriches everyone’s lives.
Although the female artist has a far more acceptable position in society today, she often does not get the same recognition as the male. Could it be that women are afraid of criticism? Perhaps the inflated ‘male ego’ and even testosterone plays a role. Men are more likely to tell the world of their greatness while beating their chests.For women, a lack of presence and acceptance in the art arena may have lead to inhibited self-expression and lack of self-confidence.
The wheels of progress have been turning:
- In 1975 The exhibition ‘Australian Women Artists: One hundred years 1840-1940’, curated by Janine Burke was a landmark and turned the spotlight entirely on female artists.
- Since then, there have been major and significant exhibitions, focussing on women and curated by women. In 1997 an internationally touring art exhibition, curated by Catharine de Zegher was exhibited at the Art Gallery Of Western Australia: ‘Inside the Invisible: An Ecliptical Traverse of Twentieth Century Art, in, of and from the feminine‘. It featured the art of women across three eras. The 1930’s- 40’s; the 1960’s-70’s and the 1990’s
- Joan Kerr’s ‘National Women’s Art’ exhibition in 1995 was a series of independent shows highlighting female artists across all media.
- In 2001 Jane Hylton curated ‘ Modern Australian Female artists, 1925-1945’ It included names that rank on the list of Australia’s finest female artists today: Grace Cossington Smith. Margaret Preston, Grace Crowley and Dorrit Black.
Perth Female Artists on the Rise
In Perth, Western Australia, the leading arts philanthropist, Janet Holmes a Court established the acclaimed and prestigious ‘Holmes a Court Gallery’ which is currently situated on the family estate and vineyard ‘Vasse Felix ‘in Cowaramup near Margaret River
Finally, women’s art is taking centre stage, and there is more focus on women in art than ever before. Art institutions and art collectors believe it is time to concentrate on the female artist
“The art world is now in an extremely positive moment of change.” Isabelle Paagman, senior director of Sotheby’s.
Girls, the time, has come to start believing in ourselves and set our creative spirits free; the time has come to show the world that we are great artists.
For the ‘Nine Lives Exhibition’, in November 2016, a group of nine talented female artists in Perth, Australia are collaborating
The Nine Lives Exhibition showcases the art of the nine artists, and it highlights social connections and is a celebration of life. The group includes an artist who has published a book of poetry.
This exhibition is proof women have a fair share of creative talent and can succeed as Fine Artists.
If you are interested in supporting the group or attending this unique exhibition you can find the details on this page>>