Overlooked Women Artists, and Georgia O’Keeffe, misconstrued

Red Amaryllis by Georgia O'Keeffe

Not about sex

What?  Overlooked women artists again?

Yes, again.  It’s Gender Oppression week here at Exiled Stardust.  Though Gender Oppression is every week for anyone unlucky enough not to be a born member of the dominant gender.

When you hear the term “Old Master,” you think of men: as if women of long ago didn’t paint and sculpt, as if making art was a guy thing. To evoke women of centuries past is to picture them self-contained as eggs, with tight faces drained of color under sternly coiffed hair. It’s not your fault. Historians put that picture into your mind. In his treatise Women and Art, Karl Scheffler said, “In an Amazonian state, there would be neither culture, history nor art.”

This quote is from a refreshing and brilliant article by Joan Atalbe in Gadfly Online about the way women artists have been treated.  Do read it.

Georgia O’Keeffe was incensed that people thought her flower paintings were code for lady parts.  But that didn’t stop everyone else from insisting they were.  Women just aren’t believed, even when a woman artist talks about her own art.

Calla Lilies by Georgia O'Keeffe

Not about sex either

A woman artist, with a lifelong non-revocable membership in the sex class, can’t make anything that isn’t really about her lady parts – because they are the only thing about her that matters!  So of course it’s the only thing her paintings could be about.

Jimson Weed by Georgia O'Keeffe courtesy of art.com

The Patriarchy won't let anything a woman does Not Be About Sex.

No one’s ever dismissed a man’s life work as being “all about the dick”.  Even though it would be justified in so many cases.


3 thoughts on “Overlooked Women Artists, and Georgia O’Keeffe, misconstrued

  1. There was an article recently – I wish I could remember names and title, but I can’t, so sue me – about a female art student who reported her teacher, or something, because he insisted that as a woman her work should be about ‘blood, guts and pussy’. Ring any bells with you? On this basis, any ‘male’ art would have to be about wanking and scratchng one’s balls. But then, most of it is.

    • That actually made me laugh. Which hurts on this particular morning. But thank you. I needed that.

      When people wonder why there aren’t any Great Women Artists, I only wonder how many of them realized how hostile the world is to women doing ANYTHING outside of their traditional roles and dropped out, not because they didn’t love art enough, but because there’s only so much hatred a person can take before it sucks all the joy out of whatever she’s doing.

  2. Pingback: Not all ‘blood, guts and pussy’: more thoughts on female artists. | t'arthead

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