In southeastern Morocco, around the oasis of Tafilalet, the Ait Khabbash people weave brightly colored carpets, embroider indigo head coverings, paint their faces with saffron, and wear ornate jewelry. Their extraordinarily detailed arts are rich in cultural symbolism; they are always breathtakingly beautiful—and they are typically made by women. Like other Amazigh (Berber) groups (but in contrast to the Arab societies of North Africa), the Ait Khabbash have entrusted their artistic responsibilities to women. Cynthia Becker spent years in Morocco living among these women and, through family connections and female fellowship, achieved unprecedented access to the artistic rituals of the Ait Khabbash. The result is more than a stunning examination of the arts themselves, it is also an illumination of women's roles in Islamic North Africa and the many ways in which women negotiate complex social and religious issues.
One of the reasons Amazigh women are artists is that the arts are expressions of ethnic identity, and it follows that the guardians of Amazigh identity ought to be those who literally ensure its continuation from generation to generation, the Amazigh women. Not surprisingly, the arts are visual expressions of womanhood, and fertility symbols are prevalent. Controlling the visual symbols of Amazigh identity has given these women power and prestige. Their clothing, tattoos, and jewelry are public identity statements; such public artistic expressions contrast with the stereotype that women in the Islamic world are secluded and veiled. But their role as public identity symbols can also be restrictive, and history (French colonialism, the subsequent rise of an Arab-dominated government in Morocco, and the recent emergence of a transnational Berber movement) has forced Ait Khabbash women to adapt their arts as their people adapt to the contemporary world. By framing Amazigh arts with historical and cultural context, Cynthia Becker allows the reader to see the full measure of these fascinating artworks.
Seldom recognized, yet contributing significantly to the structure of early American modernism is a group of women who were once the art students of the popular and perhaps most influential American art teacher of the twentieth century, Robert Henri (1865-1929). Henri encouraged an art that was expressive of personal emotions and experience and that was grounded in life. He preached equality among different media and approaches to art. Giving heed to his teachings, his women students engaged in a wide variety of artistic production. Collectively, the stunning variety and power of their work in painting, sculpture, printmaking, textiles, decorative arts, and furniture broadens our understanding of American modernism and illuminates the role of women artists in shaping it. Yet, these women have remained largely unstudied, and virtually unknown, even among art historians.
The seven new essays included in this volume move beyond the famed Ashcan School-the small group of Henri's male students who worked in a narrow range of urban realist subjects-to recover the lesser known work of his women students. The contributors, who include well-known scholars of art history, American studies, and cultural studies demonstrate how these women participated in the "modernizing" of women's roles during this era; how gender controlled their art, productivity, sales, and reception; how their many styles, media, and subjects enrich our understanding of modern American art; and how the work of modern women artists relates to women's involvement in other areas of modern American society and culture, including labor and social reform, patronage, literature, dance, and music.
Lavishly illustrated and complemented by short biographies of more than 400 of Henri's students, this delightful collection adds a long-ignored but deserving dimension to an expanded story of American modernism and to women's contributions to the arts.
This engaging cultural history examines the emergence of a professional identity for American women artists. By focusing on individual sculptors, painters, and illustrators, Laura Prieto gives us a compelling picture of the prospects and constraints faced by women artists in the United States from the late eighteenth century through the 1930s.Prieto tracks the transformation from female artisans and ladies with genteel "artistic accomplishments" to middle-class professional artists. Domestic spaces and familial metaphors helped legitimate the production of art by women. Expression of sexuality and representation of the nude body, on the other hand, posed problems for these artists. Women artists at first worked within their separate sphere, but by the end of the nineteenth century "New Women" grew increasingly uncomfortable with separatism, wanting ungendered recognition. With the twentieth century came striking attempts to reconcile domestic lives and careers with new expectations; these decades also ruptured the women's earlier sense of community with amateur women artists in favor of specifically professional allegiances. This study of a diverse group of women artists--diverse in critical reception, geographic location, race, and social background--reveals a forgotten aspect of art history and women's history.
Beatrice of Bayou Têche is a work of great historical and artistic interest: a late-nineteenth-century novel by a white woman about a black woman artist-protagonist. As the introduction for this reprint edition shows, Alice Ilgenfritz Jones was the first white woman to take an extended interest in the intersection of creativity, race, and gender. In Beatrice, Jones seeks to unveil the relationships between white and African Americans during the twenty years before the Civil War by following her mixed-race protagonist from her childhood as a slave in New Orleans through her career as a free woman and inspired painter and opera singer. Beatrice renders the white author’s effort to find a place for the mixed-race woman in relation to paradigms of creativity that are not only gendered but racialized. In the process, it exposes the fault lines of ideology and literary convention that underlie attempts to negotiate issues of race, gender, and creativity in late nineteenth-century America.
Art historians, anthropologists, and sociologists from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States discuss artwork from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Suriname, and Puerto Rico, and many of their essays focus on indigenous artists. They highlight the complex webs of social relations from which folk art emerges. For instance, while several pieces describe the similar creative and technical processes of indigenous pottery-making communities of the Amazon and of mestiza potters in Mexico and Colombia, they also reveal the widely varying functions of the ceramics and meanings of the iconography. Integrating the social, historical, political, geographical, and economic factors that shape folk art in Latin America and the Caribbean, Crafting Gender sheds much-needed light on a rich body of art and the women who create it.
ContributorsEli BartraRonald J. DuncanDolores JulianoBetty LaDukeLourdes Rejón PatrónSally PriceMaría de Jesús Rodríguez-ShadowMari Lyn SalvadorNorma ValleDorothea Scott Whitten
María Izquierdo (1902–1955) and Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) were the first two Mexican women artists to achieve international recognition. During the height of the Mexican muralist movement, they established successful careers as easel painters and created work that has become an integral part of Mexican modernism. Although the iconic Kahlo is now more famous, the two artists had comparable reputations during their lives. Both were regularly included in major exhibitions of Mexican art, and they were invariably the only women chosen for the most important professional activities and honors.
In a deeply informed study that prioritizes critical analysis over biographical interpretation, Nancy Deffebach places Kahlo’s and Izquierdo’s oeuvres in their cultural context, examining the ways in which the artists participated in the national and artistic discourses of postrevolutionary Mexico. Through iconographic analysis of paintings and themes within each artist’s oeuvre, Deffebach discusses how the artists engaged intellectually with the issues and ideas of their era, especially Mexican national identity and the role of women in society. In a time when Mexican artistic and national discourses associated the nation with masculinity, Izquierdo and Kahlo created images of women that deconstructed gender roles, critiqued the status quo, and presented more empowering alternatives for women. Deffebach demonstrates that, paradoxically, Kahlo and Izquierdo became the most successful Mexican women artists of the modernist period while most directly challenging the prevailing ideas about gender and what constitutes important art.
The contributions of female artists to the development of literary and artistic modernism in early twentieth century France remain poorly understood. It was during this period that a so-called “modern woman” began occupying urban spaces associated with the development of modern art and modernism’s struggles to define subjectivities and sexualities. Whereas most studies of modernism’s formal innovations and its encouragement of artistic autonomy neglect or omit necessary discussions of gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, the contributors of The Modern Woman Revisited inject these perspectives into the discussion.
Between the two World Wars, Paris served as the setting for unparalleled freedom for expatriate as well as native-born French women, who enjoyed unprecedented access to education and opportunities to participate in public artistic and intellectual life. Many of these women made lasting contributions in art and literature. Some of the artists discussed include Colette, Tamara de Lempicka, Sonia Delaunay, Djuna Barnes, Augusta Savage, and Lee Miller.
Inthis book, an internationally recognized roster of art historians, literary critics, and other scholars offers a nuanced portrait of what it meant to be a modern woman during this decisive period of modernism’s development. Individual essays explore the challenges faced by women in the early decades of the twentieth century, as well as the strategies these women deployed to create their art and to build meaningful lives and careers. The introduction underscores the importance of the contributors’ efforts to engender larger questions about modernity, sexuality, race, and class.
Overcoming All Obstacles: The Women of the Académie Julian is the first book to examine late nineteenth-century Paris's most famous training ground for the leading women artists of the period. The Académie Julian was founded in Paris in 1868, initially to prepare students for entry to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the nineteenth-century's preeminent art school. Because women could not study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts until 1897, Julian itself became an international equivalent for many of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century's most important women artists.
Not only does Overcoming All Obstacles introduce the reader to many works by women artists-both famous and lesser known-but the essays offer a cultural and historical context in which to appreciate their art. Gabriel Weisberg's essay concentrates on the rigorous training methods enforced by Rodolphe Julian and the teachers at the Academy. Jane Becker explores the competitive environment of the Julian Academy as it affected the Ukrainian painter Marie Bashkirtseff and the Swiss painter Louise-Catherine Breslau. Essays by Catherine Fehrer, the leading scholar of the Académie Julian, and Tamar Garb, an art historian who focuses on the training of women artists, give us a richer understanding of the Académie Julian's place in the sphere of art education in late nineteenth-century Paris.
Generously illustrated with both color and black-and-white images, this volume includes documentary photographs and caricatures that have never before been reproduced. The core of the book draws on the large collection of the Académie Julian Del Debbio, the Académie Julian's successor institution in Paris. This publication accompanied an exhibition organized by the Dahesh Museum in New York that opened after its exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. The exhibition subsequently continued to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis.
Beginning in Paris in the 1920s, women poets, essayists, painters, and artists in other media have actively collaborated in defining and refining surrealism's basic project—achieving a higher, open, and dynamic consciousness, from which no aspect of the real or the imaginary is rejected. Indeed, few artistic or social movements can boast as many women forebears, founders, and participants—perhaps only feminism itself. Yet outside the movement, women's contributions to surrealism have been largely ignored or simply unknown.
This anthology, the first of its kind in any language, displays the range and significance of women's contributions to surrealism. Letting surrealist women speak for themselves, Penelope Rosemont has assembled nearly three hundred texts by ninety-six women from twenty-eight countries. She opens the book with a succinct summary of surrealism's basic aims and principles, followed by a discussion of the place of gender in the movement's origins. She then organizes the book into historical periods ranging from the 1920s to the present, with introductions that describe trends in the movement during each period. Rosemont also prefaces each surrealist's work with a brief biographical statement.
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