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Posts Tagged ‘women in art’

This piece also appeared in Feministe on 1 April 2013.

One of the most striking scenes in the 2012 miniseries version of Ford Maddox Ford’s Parade’s End is one in which suffragette Valentine Wannop takes refuge in an art museum during a rally. While she is quietly admiring a painting of Venus, another woman enters and slashes the painting with a cleaver, shouting, “What are you all gawking at? Do you think that is all women are good for?”1

Parade's End, Episode 2: The Destruction of the Venus

Parade's End, Episode 2, damage

As someone with a deep love of art, I was alarmed as Valentine was. I do not believe in the destruction of art, but what the stand-in for Mary Richardson said stuck with me. Consider the status of women in the art world: often considered the “muse,” rarely the artist; lauded as the pinnacle of beauty but having no worth otherwise: the Venus forever looking in her mirror, the object of the (male) gaze, not the subject of her own agency. Should a gallery or museum try to strive for the inclusion of women artists (and artists of color, queer artists, and so on), there may be criticism of ignoring the masters, so-called “female privilege,” and the desire for a gender-blind meritocracy that simply does not exist at present. If you were wondering what such an article might look like, look no further than C.B. Liddell’s “The diverse works of Asian women artists,” a special to The Japan Times.

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