Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Answer to Women Artists of the Nineteenth Century

I want to thank everyone who responded on my blog and on Facebook. It is unfortunate there are no monographs on these women. In fairness to those who didn't get the names to all of them correct, only a handfull of these artists were known to me---the rest I found during my research into 19th Century women artists.

The images of the last post from top to bottom. Here are the names of the artists...

Marie Bashkirtseff 1860-1884 Ukrainian/ Russian, studied with Jules Lepage and Tony Robert Fleury

Louise Abbéma 1858-1927 French, studied with Carolus Duran

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale 1872 – 1945 English, studied with Herbert Bone at the Royal Academy

Juana Romani 1869-1924 Italian, studied with Jean Jacques Henner and Ferdinand Roybet in Paris

Maria Martinetti 1864-1921 Italian, studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome with Gustavo Simoni

Marie Aimée Elaine Lucas-Robiquet 1858 – 1959 Normandy, studied with Félix-Joseph Barrias.

Sarah Stilwell Weber 1878-1939 American, studied with Howard Pyle

Anna Bilinska Bohdanowiczowa 1857-1893 Polish, studied with Rodolphe Julian

Marguerite Stuber Pearson 1898-1978 American, studied with Edmund Tarbell

Women Artists of the Nineteenth Century

Armand Cabrera
I teach painting workshops a few times a year. Men and women attend my classes, although the majority of my students are women. Over and over again, women ask me this question:

Why don’t I write more historical articles on women painters?

I would like to offer my opinion and give a little historical background on women artists in the nineteenth century.

Most of the articles I write are about deceased artists. My focus is outdoor painting, which did not become an accepted genre till the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. At that time it was not acceptable for women to make a living as an artist. Even if women could overcome the social stigma of choosing art as a profession, they were only permitted a limited level of instruction--- curtailing their chance of producing art at the level at which to compete with men of the era.

In doing research on women painters of the past, I have been confronted with many obstacles. Some are based on a societal bias toward women that still exists today. The biggest dilemma is a failure to represent good women painters in museums. In addition, there is a serious lack of literature about women who successfully overcame obstacles of their time to become the artists they strived to be. I hope as more and more women gain standing in academic circles, society will focus on women painters and bring these women’s stories to light.

As a person who struggles daily with the stigma of being an artist, I find these individual stories compelling. It is unfortunate that many of the texts that are written about women artists seem to carry with them a political agenda. Academically trained women painters seem to get short shrift by contemporary woman authors who want to look at them with disdain for continuing a style the authors consider male-centric.

Another setback in finding information on women artists is my own artistic bias. Because I have little interest in modern art, I find myself indifferent to many of the recognized women masters creating modern art. The style of paintings I am most drawn to are painters who work from life and are academically trained and embrace a sort of Academic Impressionism, if you will.

Many women have bypassed this particular style-- which makes perfect sense historically. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th Century that women were allowed to enjoy the full benefit of classical art instruction. If a woman decided to become an artist, she would probably follow modern art, which had won acceptance.

By the early 20th Century, sales of academic work had plummeted---one more reason for young women artists not to embrace Academic or Impressionist styles. I know there were exceptions, but there is very little written documentation to support them.

I have spent the last 4+ years writing for the website, Now, on my personal blog, I continue to try to ferret out a sufficient amount of information about women artists whose work I admire. It is frustrating, to say the least. There are very few books devoted solely to an individual woman’s work, which makes my search even tougher. I am given limited resources to research these stories and rely heavily on books, catalogs and magazine articles for my data. Going forward, I promise to include the stories of these talented women as often as I can.
Just for fun, can anyone name the nine women artists that are represented in this article?

I will post their names in a few days.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Elegance of Abstraction

Armand Cabrera

The word abstraction as it pertains to representational art is the structure the finished painting is built on. I believe that representational paintings should have these qualities along with the subject matter of the idea depicted.

All great paintings have strong abstraction in their work that is never obliterated by too much rendering. This is not to say that you can’t render something and still have a strong under-painting, because you can. The best realists have strong non-objective qualities to their work. It is mediocre painters that use rendering and over-modeling of the forms to try and mask their inabilities as an artist.

A great painting should work on a number of levels and one of the most fundamental levels is the nonobjective beauty of its components. These are value pattern, design, color harmony and shape. These things do not depend on the representation of some thing to be beautiful. You often hear artists praised for just one of these fundamental elements and rarely all of them. Great artworks have a synergy of idea and application that work perfectly together showing no weak passages to deter from the overall effect.

The accompanying images are, in order of appearance, Harry Anderson, Hugh Bolton Jones, and Frederick Mulhaupt.