Gustav Klimt
Danae
c. 1907-08
77 x 83 cm
Oil on canvas
Hans Dichand Collection, Vienna

DANAE was a princess of Argos in the Greek Peloponessos, a daughter of King Akrisios. When her father learned a prophecy that he was destined to be killed by a son of his daughter, he locked Danae away in a subterranean, bronze chamber. Her prison, however, was easily infiltrated by the god Zeus who impregnated her in the guise of a golden shower.

She conceived and bore him a son named Perseus. As soon as her father learned of this, he placed Danae and the infant in a chest and set them afloat at sea. By the providence of the gods they drifted safely to the island of Seriphos, where the fisherman Diktys brought them ashore and offered welcomed them into his house.

Later when Perseus was grown, King Polydektes of Seriphos sought Danae for a wife and, attempting to rid himself of her son, commanded Perseus fetch the Gorgon’s head. Upon the hero’s return he discovered that his mother had fled to the temple of Athena for refuge, and in anger turned Polydektes and his allies to stone with Medousa’ head. He then travelled with Danae to Argos and claimed his grandfather’s throne. x

So I work in video games right now and sometimes stuff just happens that makes me really not happy with the total lack of creative risk-taking in the industry |:< Specifically with regards to characters that are anything other than white, male, 30-something, scruffy, and probably named Jack.

In cases like this designing ladies is my comfort food.

Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907 - July 13, 1954)

Frida was a Mexican painter who is best known for her self-portraits. Kahlo’s life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as the Blue House. Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.

She suffered lifelong health problems, many caused by a traffic accident she survived as a teenager. Recovering from her injuries isolated her from other people, and this isolation influenced her works, many of which are self-portraits of one sort or another. Kahlo suggested, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” She also stated, “I was born a bitch. I was born a painter.”

Kahlo created at least 140 paintings, along with dozens of drawings and studies. Of her paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds.

Kahlo was also influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her use of bright colors, dramatic symbolism and primitive style. She frequently included the symbolic monkey. In Mexican mythology, monkeys are symbols of lust, but Kahlo portrayed them as tender and protective symbols.

They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.

But the essential way of seeing women, the
essential use to which their images are put, has not changed.
Women are depicted in a quite different way from men - not
because the feminine is different from the masculine - but
because the ’ideal" spectator is always assumed to be male
and the image of the woman is designed to flatter him. If you
have any doubt that this is so, make the following experiment.
Choose from this book an image of a traditional nude.
Transform the woman into a man. Either in your mind’s eye or
by drawing on the reproduction. Then notice the violence
which that transformation does. Not to the image, but to the
assumptions of a likely viewer.
—  John Berger; Ways of Seeing, pg 64

reminds me of what the Hawkeye Initiative do

101 WOMEN ARTISTS WHO GOT WIKIPEDIA PAGES THIS WEEK 

The Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon was an international initiative to bring women’s voices to the online encyclopedia–as editors and as subjects 

“Last Saturday, about 600 volunteers in 31 venues around the globe engaged in a collective effort to change the world, one Wikipedia entry at a time.

In the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, in nonprofits and art schools, in museums and universities, these people—mostly women—set out to write entries, uncredited and unpaid, for the fast-growing crowd-sourced online encyclopedia.

They had answered a call for the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, a massive multinational effort to correct a persistent bias in Wikipedia, which is disproportionally written by and about men.

Volunteers versed in the process, protocol, andethic of Wikipedia gave tutorials to the newcomers, who were mostly artists, activists, students, and scholars. They learned what constitutes a proper reference, how to create external links, and when and where to put footnotes. They learned that people can’t write about themselves, and what kind of sources are acceptable.

By the end of the day, around 100 new entries were up (around 80 more were enhanced). The new pages, devoted to figures ranging from Australian modernists Ethel Spowers and Dorrit Black to Catalan painter Josefa Texidor i Torres to contemporary artists including Mary Miss, Xaviera Simmons, Audrey Flack, and Monika Bravo, vary widely in scope, grammar, and quality of content. But the Wikipedia team expects that blips will vanish as the hive mind has its work on the entries.

“You have someone you know a lot about? It takes ten minutes,” says Ximena Gallardo C., a gender and film scholar at LaGuardia Community College. “This is the world brain. It’s just starting.”

Read the full piece here

Photo 1: Editors at the resource table during the Wikipedia Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon at Eyebeam in Chelsea (CC BY-SA MICHAEL MANDIBERG)  

Photo 2: Cosima von Bonin, The Bonin / Oswald Empire’s Nothing #04 (The New York Version With Blue Feet), 2011, wool, fabric, MDF, lacquer, CD player, electrical wiring, sound speaker dome, speaker cable. (COURTESY THE ARTIST AND PETZEL, NEW YORK)

Photo 3: Learning to post (CC BY-SA MICHAEL MANDIBERG)

6

WOMEN IN THE MIDDLE AGES

This is an extended featurette from Wars to Come, a look at the intersection between pop culture, Game of Thrones, and history as told through medieval illuminations.

Popular imagination often equates medieval women with damsels in distress (borrowing images like this one of Saint George rescuing a maiden from a dragon), beautiful bodies in extravagant costume, or a blend of the Amazon warrior women with Joan of Arc. 

Most women, however, were working peasants, nurturing wives and mothers, or pious nuns, but a significant number also held prominent roles as queens, duchesses, nobles, scholars, or even artisans (and eventually, a growing middle class allowed more women to commission art and become learned readers). 

Biblical texts and patristic writings often defined women’s place in society, and a continuum existed between Eve as the first woman-sinner and the Virgin Mary as a model of motherhood and sanctity. Bathsheba, the beautiful married woman whose nude flesh tempted King David in the Hebrew Bible, joined a lineup of seductive women (like the Roman goddess Venus) who could be models of vice, whereas numerous female saints represented virtue (such as Margaret who emerged unscathed from the belly of a dragon or Hedwig who imitated Christ’s suffering through extreme acts of devotion). Like their male counterparts, many female saints were brutally martyred à la Game of Thrones, such as Apollonia or Agatha.

Violence towards women went beyond death for religious causes, as Boccaccio’s The Fates of Illustrious Men and Women demonstrates (Nero mutilated the body of his mother, Brunhilde of France was dragged by her hair from horses, etc.). 

Although legal codes in Europe generally favored male interests (if a woman left a man, he retained most rights in one Spanish law text), a significant number of women influenced and shaped the development of nations, history, learning, and theology.

For a fascinating look at medieval notions of God’s femininity, see Caroline Walker Bynum’s Jesus as Mother. For a short list of famous medieval women, see Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party seating and heritage floor from the beginning of Christianity to the Reformation.

Gentileschi could match the men of counter-reformation art, but chose to dramatise the struggles of women. She depicted the same heroines, even repeating the scenes of her father Orazio, but she charged hers with a pungent critique of male possession of women. The violence of voyeurism is palpable in her Susanna and the Elders (1610), when the cowering woman is victim to the lecherous gaze of two old men. They will accuse her of the capital crime of adultery unless she agrees to sleep with them. Her strong twisting body is displayed, but her horror is uppermost, and her arms are raised in resistance. “What are YOU looking at?” the painting says to us. Compare this with Tintoretto’s titillating version in which Susanna seems to know she is being watched and exhibits her white nakedness in an obliging soft performance. The episode becomes a pretext for erotica, and as the woman is complicit in her own subjugation, the dirt of sexual oppression is whitewashed away. Gentileschi will have none of it.

It is not my purpose to suggest that we have yet to discover a female Michelangelo, but it is misleading to look at the past through the eyes of men alone. What women saw was different. Let’s remember that.

— 

Amanda Vickery, Bring Female Artists out of Storage, published on the Guardian’s website yesterday (16 May)

my favorite thing i’ve read this week in light of revising for an exam on 17/18th century european art in which a total of FIVE women artists were mentioned throughout the semester…..