Curator and art historian Katie Hessel, best known for her popular Instagram account @thegreattwomenartists, published her first book in September. A story of art without menin England
Now, the groundbreaking book, which focuses on the many achievements of women across art history, regardless of their relationship with their husbands or fathers, is set for release in the United States on May 2, 2023.
The book is designed as a counterpart to Ernst Gombrich’s Catalog of Art History. art story (1950) What happened to British art education? Jansson’s Art History In both countries, however, what is presented as an encyclopedic text was first published without mentioning a single female artist.
Hessel’s book depicts the other half of the picture: the non-male artists who have been making art all along, their stories told in brief, digestible chapters, and the richness of their work. An illustration is attached.
“I really want to introduce these artists,” Hessel told Artnet News. “That’s what Gombrich’s book got me. It was an introduction to all these artists and artistic movements, and then I did my own research that led to something else.”
Host of the podcast The Great Women Artists, the author has uncovered the incredible stories of overlooked women in art history and has become an expert in identifying 21st century women in action today. (The final chapter of the book ends with a section on women painting oil today, which Hessel sees as a way to bookend a book beginning with the female Renaissance masters.)
Ahead of the book’s US release, we talked about what inspired Hessel. A story of art without menthe difficulty of following so many stories at once, and the joy of celebrating centuries of female artists and their many accomplishments.
It is clear that you have tackled a very large subject in this book, maybe some People don’t realize how big it is! What inspired you to create a comprehensive history of women’s art rather than focusing on one artist or era?
Often when reading a short bio of a female artist, about 150 words, she is mentioned in relation to a male artist. To be honest, I was a little weak. Dora Maar has always been called Picasso’s lover. Actually all I want to do is shout that Dora Maar is an incredible street photographer and a surrealist and she was amazing. But how often does her name appear in her story about him?
I wanted to introduce this subject to people who may have never even set foot in a museum before.
Instagram and podcasts are so artist focused that I wanted to challenge myself to put all these different stories together and piece them together.
This is not entirely definitive art history. That’s exactly my point of view. I finished this book over a year before his and have learned a lot since. These are just some of the contributions non-male artists have made to art history.
And as you write the book, have you noticed that the range continues to expand? How did you make your editorial decisions?
completely. The book was his 30,000 word plan, but I wrote about 95,000. There are still many things missing. This kills me, but I can’t include everything.
You are telling this story that is very familiar, but it is also an impossible task. you just need to go to your gut.
When I talk about documentary photography and street photography in the 1930s, I talk about Lee Miller and Dorothea Lang. I tried to make it as comprehensive and accessible as possible.
Are there any changes to the US version of the book?
It’s the same, just the cover is different! Over 50% of his podcast guests are American. New York is an important city for art, and America’s influence on art history, especially her 20th century, is immeasurable.
For example, when I was writing about the postwar period, I realized that I couldn’t include a chapter about Black Mountain College. Of course, in America Black Mountain is pretty famous, but here in Europe people are total strangers. In other words, it is very suitable for American audiences.
I have written many, if not 95,000 word articles, about non-male artists and the importance of rewriting the canon to recognize their place in art history. What do you say to those who claim that the fact that the artists weren’t originally written reflects their lack of credit?
Women have been artists for thousands of years, since cave paintings. Yet Gombrich and Jansson’s first edition did not include a single female artist. In other words, it depends on who could tell the story of art history.
And, of course, there are so many sexist barriers that women have to jump over.European female artists weren’t allowed into life drawing studios until the 1890s. Despite these boundaries and everything going against them, the fact that they became professional artists is quite remarkable.
A sort of Baroque Artemisia Gentileschi, she was an international celebrity at the time and people knew her all over Europe. She was asked by Charles III to come to England. It’s not that these artists weren’t famous all their lives. They were, but almost consciously written out of art history.
The same is true in the market. When it comes to the prices of works by female artists, the statistics are shocking. Basically, a living female artist actually earns 10 or 11% of what a male artist does. If you’ve seen her recent Burns Halperin report, you know there’s still a lot to do in January 2023.
Earlier, you talked about how you were inspired to delve into the subject of female artists after visiting an art fair and being surprised by the low number of female artists.
It was completely life changing. i was 21 years old. When I walked into an art fair, I suddenly realized that none of the works were by women. It was just this epiphany moment. I had just finished my BA in Art History, so I had to ask myself. Can she name 20 female artists? The answer was no.
I was challenged to write an article about Baroque and Renaissance women artists and suddenly I learned about Elisabetta Sirani, Artemisia Gentileschi and Sofonisba Anguissola. I was unearthing all these stories and they’re all there, no need to look for them.
As a result, I started an Instagram account in October 2015. It has always been a mission to honor female artists, from young graduates to old masters. It’s a pleasure.
What would you like to see from the art world in terms of steps to rival the playing field for non-male artists?
It takes a conscious effort to make sure progress is happening. We need to take this seriously because representation is important.
My book has a chapter on Guerrilla Girls. Essentially, what they uncovered was the fact that the museum celebrates the history of patriarchy, as opposed to the history of art. If you don’t see it, you don’t see society as a whole.
what are your recommendations For shows that currently feature female artists And to spring?
I’m so excited about Sarah Shi at the Guggenheim and can’t wait to be in New York City in the spring. (In some ways I have included her in her book alongside Catarina Grosse and Julie Meheretu, who I consider to be the holy trinity of contemporary art.)
Sarah Sze takes the influx and proliferation of images and information that comes our way and breaks it down into these 3D models in a way that I can’t believe. The Guggenheim’s actual form almost mirrors her sculpture, so it looks absolutely magnificent.
And there are some great shows in London. Alice Neal is about to open at the Barbican, and Lynette Yadom Boaky has a great show at the Tate. It’s a really exciting time!
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