Monday, February 20, 2017

Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Women's Portraiture



Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Women’s Portraiture




 Throughout history, the fields of fine art have unfairly promoted men’s artistic efforts and given little or token recognition to woman’s art. In today’s world, woman are no longer hindered in their creative expression due to social restrictions or of the time demands motherhood and homemaking. 

 

 So what accounts for today’s lack of recognition of women artists?

 

Here is what Wikipedia says about woman in the art world:

“While female artists have been involved in making art throughout history, their work often has not been as well acknowledged as that of men. Often certain media are associated with women artists, such as textile arts. Women's roles in relation to art, of course, vary in different cultures and communities. Many art forms considered to be created predominantly by women have been historically dismissed from the art historical canon as craft, as opposed to fine art.[1] Women artists faced challenges due to gender biases in the mainstream fine art world.[1] They have often encountered difficulties in training, travelling and trading their work, and gaining recognition.”

 

 In his treatise Women and Art, Karl Scheffler said, "In an Amazonian state, there would be neither culture, history nor art." He went on to fault women’s inability to gain spiritual insight. Some male artists have also degraded their female colleagues. The Impressionist Edgar Degas, a known male supremacist, saw women as "animals" with an "absence of all feeling in the presence of art." American artist, Thomas Hart Benton believed that "an art school is a place for young girls to pass the time between high school and marriage."

Another excellent example of this discrimination involves the world renown Sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington. Despite being a 20th century artist, when she won first place in a Paris competition for her life-size equestrian statue of Joan of Arc in 1910, the judges took back the prize when they discovered she was female.

 

This unfairness is also evident in the higher levels of professional oil portraiture.  It is usually the men, that arrange for the most important and expensive high profile portrait commissions. In fact, if you search the best portrait painters, you will find only men listed. The galleries, portrait brokers, and historians contribute to this ongoing bias.

    

Woman portrait artists have a very special and unique gift to give to portraiture. We are not so encumbered by egos but instead evoke a genuine care and sensitivity to the human spirit.  These are very important and necessary attributes for fine traditional portraiture. As a professional portrait artist for nearly 30 years I have found what makes a beautiful timeless portrait is truth, love and the faithful giving of the artist’s spirit totally onto the canvas. 

       

 

The more goodness and love the artist feels from within and projects out onto the canvas the more the portrait flows, capturing the spirit of the individual. Creating portraits and art is not only an important cultural need but it is truly spiritual…a devotion to faith and love and truth.


It is long overdue for women to finally be recognized and treated fairly in the art world. As artists, women have much to contribute, especially in today’s unsettled and uncompassionate world.

 

 

 Susan Boone Durkee



Mark Twain’s The Lobster Pot Studio



www.susandurkee.com



susan@susandurkee.com

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