WOMEN AND ART

Written by Pauline Roget

Women have long been the subject in painting and sculpture. From the Venus de Milo to representations of the Virgin and Child and the Mona Lisa, women are visible in works of art as subjects. However, they are presented under the spectrum of the male gaze, and works by women are more rare.

The history of art has long been marked by a significant under-representation of women, both in terms of the artists and the subjects represented. Throughout the centuries, women have had to fight to gain access to artistic spaces and have their creativity recognized. At the Musée du Louvre in Paris, for example, 0.48% of the works exhibited over a period ranging from Antiquity to the mid-19th century were created by women.

On International Women’s Rights day, we wish to highlight the spotlight women in art.

Often ignored in art history, female artists are still struggling to emerge.

It’s a fact, women are still poorly represented in the art world. The figures speak for themselves: barely 25% of exhibitions at the Tate Modern are devoted to female artists.

At New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, less than 5% of the artists in the “modern art” section are women, while 85% of the nudes are by women. American collective Guerrilla Girls regularly publicizes the lack of visibility of women artists on social networks and through their actions. The MOMA is no better: only 7% of the works exhibited were created by women.

Women have not always been accepted as artists in their own right. And yet, although they were often portrayed as heroines in prehistory and antiquity, it was only relatively late that women were elevated to the rank of artist-creator on a par with men. Before becoming an artist, women were first seen as artists’ favourite models. Since antiquity, women have symbolized desire and dreams, and have been a preferred aesthetic model. The woman is the object and the man is the creator.

Emblematic figures

It’s impossible to talk about women who have left their mark on art history without mentioning Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist born in 1907. She painted most of her self-portraits in bed, facing her reflection. She was also deeply committed to the evolution of the female condition and the emancipation of women. She is without doubt one of the most influential artists of the mid-twentieth century. Niki de Saint Phalle taught herself to paint after a traumatic event when she was just 11 years old. Born in 1755, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun was one of the greatest portrait painters of her time. Her self-portraits reveal much about her personality. She pursued her career as an artist at a time when women were virtually non-existent in the art world. Lois Mailou Jones’s work is exhibited in many institutions, including the National Gallery, the Smithsonian Museum of Art and the Met. Jones has taught art most of her life, including at Howard University in Washington, DC (a university nicknamed “Black Harvard”). She has declared that her greatest contribution to the art world is undoubtedly to have proved “the talent of black artists”. Refusing to be labeled, she simply wanted to be known as an American painter, for work that reflected her pride in her African roots and American ancestry.

And in our gallery?

On International Women’s Rights Day, we celebrate not only the progress that has been made, but also the spaces that continue to propel female voices in the art world. Since its inception, Christine X Art Gallery has exhibited works that transcend gender stereotypes, highlighting not only female figures, but also exceptional and committed female artists. The gallery thus becomes a meeting place for the inspiring aesthetics and powerful messages conveyed by these bold female creators. Through its ongoing commitment to the promotion of female talent, Christine X Art Gallery aims to help make art a catalyst for women’s equality and empowerment.

Art transcends gender boundaries to celebrate creativity in all its forms. Indeed, UNTITLED 18 by Karen Caruana,  CHILLING AFTER A DAY OUT IN THE SUN by Olaug Vethal, IN THE STUDIO 1 by Iella (Daniela Attard) and LOVE IS BLIND by Patricia O’Brien are works by women artists with whom Christine X Art Gallery has collaborated for many years. Available on the website, you can also come and discover them directly at the gallery.

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Women&art article