Monday, 2 June 2014

Review of Annie Kevans: Women and the History of Art at Fine Art Society, Contemporary

Annie Kevans: Women and the History of Art
Fine Art Society, Contemporary
13 May – 6 June 2014

If asked to name three significant personages from the history of art, most people, almost across the board, will come forth with suggestions such as Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt van Rijn, Pablo Picasso and Damien Hirst. Few will offer up names such as the Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt (1844-1926); Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), co-founder, along with her husband Robert, of Orphism; first woman member of the Prussian Academy of Arts. Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945); or Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), one of the two female founding members of the Royal Academy. Women in the history of art have somehow repeatedly escaped the canon. Although this sad state of affairs has repeatedly been challenged over the last (nearly) half a century, kickstarted by art historian Linda Nochlin’s seminal 1971 article, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”, there is still an ongoing struggle to bring successful (and even less successful) women artists, past and present, on to an equal footing with their male contemporaries, in terms of recognition, exposure, and even just pay. Moreover, those with the power to change the knowledge of future generations, namely professors on Fine Arts courses, really do need to change their syllabus reading lists and refer to a much wider cross section of “great” names (and works) from the past.

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