The art world is one of the sectors in which we can see more clearly the serious affectation exerted by the machismo of patriarchy. When we talk about artists, we undoubtedly assume that they are men. In fact, if we were to think of female artists, the speed with which names come to mind (if they come at all) differs greatly from the speed with which male examples come to mind.
This effect is not accidental. The importance and above all the visibility that male artists have received in comparison to female artists is abysmal. It would not be risky to say that women artists have been voluntarily silenced from the history and discourse of art. Whether we review the academic program of any degree that studies art and culture, or the agenda of exhibitions in museums and foundations, the percentage of female names that appear is as ridiculous as it is scandalous.
That is why we at FEM thought it necessary to design a T-shirt to give visibility to some of the most outstanding women artists in the history of art. Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, Artemisia Gentileschi, Hannah Höch and Ana Mendieta are the artists honored in our new t-shirt. Let's take a look at each of them:
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is perhaps the most globally known female artist. Her paintings are vivid and powerful. The traumatic experiences of her life conditioned to a great extent the objects of reflection of her works: physical and emotional pain, suffering and resilience are always presented through elements full of symbolism. In spite of the difficulties he faced (he suffered from polio, his spine was severely damaged in an accident, he underwent more than thirty operations and was in chronic pain) he had a passionate love life, full of romances with both men and women. However, she did not escape an abusive relationship with her husband Diego Rivera, also a painter.
On the other hand, Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) is one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century. Her works draw from her traumatic childhood experiences and the suffering that her father caused her. Her sculptures and installations speak of fragility and pain with a language so honest that they can become uncomfortable. She often uses forms reminiscent of bodily limbs to show her emotional scars. She used art as a healing therapy to release her dark longings for revenge towards those who harmed her, as well as to show human vulnerability.
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656) was an excellent Italian Baroque painter and exponent of Caravaggism. She was violently abused and raped by one of her painting masters. During the trial, she was tortured to see if she was telling the truth. She was later forcibly married to an untalented painter. Even so, Gentileschi had such a mastery of painting that she received important commissions, including one from Philip IV. The strength and violence of the gestures of the characters in her works are considered a reflection of the frustration and pent-up anger that the artist had to repress throughout her life.
Later, during the first avant-garde of the twentieth century, the Dadaist movement counted on Hannah Höch (1889-1978), a key visual artist for the movement characterized by innovating with the technique of photomontage. The main themes of her works are feminist: the conception of women's bodies and gender roles, always with an acid and ironic humour.
Finally, Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) is perhaps one of the most outstanding feminist artists. Her extensive work (photography, video, performances, sculpture, etc.) establishes a direct connection between the female body and natural elements. Her approach to the conflicts that women suffer, the harassment, the pressure on our bodies, is manifested in her works in a raw and direct way. She often subjected her own body to modifications and external elements (blood, stockings, plants, earth and flowers) to speak of her identity as a woman and as a Cuban. She died falling from a window of a New York building after a violent argument with her husband Carl André. It is suspected that he pushed her, but in the trial he was acquitted for lack of evidence.