Archive for the women Tag

You are what is most beautiful about me. Really?

I came across some new work of Del Kathryn Barton’s this week which I will talk about in another post at another time. But it reminded me of her 2008 Archibald winning portrait and I thought it was worth pulling apart some of the ideas contained within it. What is of interest to me in this piece, apart from the
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Tennyson, K. Good son. 2012

The Good son.

I’ve decided to collect up all the portraits of children I can find that are entered into various painting prizes over the last little while. I’m interested in knowing if the child as subject is still primarily the domain of the female artists. This one was a finalist in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize 2012 and is by Cairns based
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Modersohn_Becker, Paula. Self-portrait on her sixth wedding anniversary, 1906

Paula’s painted pregnancy

Paula Modersohn-Becker painted this self-portrait in 1906. It’s called Self-portrait on her sixth wedding anniversary and apart from being a fictional piece (Modersohn-Becker was not to fall pregnant until the following year and then she survived only three weeks after the birth) it’s a rare archetype. Firstly, it’s a nude. Women rarely painted themselves nude, despite being so accustomed to seeing themselves naked in
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Children as passports

As you leaf through women’s self-portraits of the past you can’t help seeing how many children are by our sides. They are everywhere – as babies, as toddlers, as siblings. It’s unsettling. Unsettling, because those children were our passports. They gave us permission to paint – not the children themselves (many of them probably wished their mothers weren’t so distracted by paint) but
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I paint, therefore I am

In the next series of posts I want to move on to another theme in the history of women’s self-portraiture, that of motherhood. But in the interest of tying up loose ends I should make some kind of conclusion to this theme. In exploring art history in general, the female artist is largely absent from the famous collections, the main catalogues and
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Eye to eye with Anna Bilinska

At about the same time as Therese Schwartze was peering back at Reynolds, Anna Bilinska was facing us – eye to eye. Anna Bilinska’s multi-layered painting is one of my favourites. When I’m feeling buoyant, I fancy myself chatting easily with this attractive woman – who appears to have sat down momentarily on the sitter’s chair, almost inadvertently catching her
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Understanding Artemesia’s Allegory

In 1611 Cesare Ripa published the highly influential text Iconologia, a kind of recipe book detailing the symbols artists could use in painting various themes. It was a bit of a ready-reckoner of emblems allowing artists to narrate complex stories and ideas using symbols which were easily recognised and understood by the viewer. The visual image played a different role
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Artemisia Gentileschi: the Nina Simone of the Renaissance

Much has been made in recent years of the artist Artemisia Gentileschi. Rather than talk about the story that accompanies her life – the rape by her art teacher Agostino Tassi which, having all the features of a good soap opera has the power to confine her within that story – I am going to attempt to throw light on
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Mary Cosway and her discontent

In 1787 a woman named Mary Cosway painted an amazing self-portrait. It was a portrait of her discontent. Today all that exists of the painting is an engraving by Valentine Green and as a result we must interpret her work partly through the hand of another. Even so, the message in Mary Cosway’s self-portrait is hard to miss. The composition
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Pioneer and hero: Sofonisba Anguissola

From the mid 1500s we begin to see really notable self-portraits by women trickling through. My favourites are by Sofonisba Anguissola, an Italian woman of minor nobility who, from her childhood was determined to paint. The problem for her and her peers was that there was no tradition or culture that gave women permission to be artists. They were working
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