The Problem of Feminism in Female Art

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The Problem of Feminism in Female Art

A review of the world’s great artists conjures familiar images: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel; Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night; Pablo Picasso’s The Tragedy. There are many more, of course: Monet, Moya, Warhol, Rembrandt, Kandinsky. What is immediately noticeable, however, upon any brief study of art, is the significant absence of women as heralded artists—not only in our ancient pasts, but even today, amongst valiant efforts for gender equality.

The question “Why have there been no great women artists?” has been debated since the 1970’s, when historian Linda Nochlin released her book of a similar name. In the decades that have followed, the number of women pursuing education and careers in the arts has risen drastically; more women than ever are attempting to make a living as artists. Yet feminists are not satisfied: despite the growing numbers of women in the art world, female artists’ attempts at recognition have been dramatically less successful than those of their male counterparts.

Feminist artists have been working since the women’s movement to create some kind of forum for women’s art in a history dominated by “good ol’ boys.” Yet the political stereotypes which surround feminism have caused some female artists to disassociate themselves with the concept. More and more women are choosing to delve into a profession where their work will very much remain subdued, and where their individual contributions will likely remain unheralded. This increase, certainly, is a hard-fought victory for women; the increase indicates increased awareness and opportunity for women artists. However, some contemporary female artists argue that feminism’s effort to reach the propr...

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