Abused, ridiculed, at best tolerated

Iain Gale
Tuesday 21 November 1995 00:02
Comments

Men and women see the world in essentially different ways, it is said, and this, for better or worse, is reflected in their art. Consequently, as the comments below - variously patronising, stereotyping, occasionally enlightened - reveal, it is only surprisingly recently that women artists have been taken with anything approaching seriousness.

"Art is very much alien to the mind of women, and cannot be accomplished without a great deal, which in women is usually very scarce."

Boccaccio, Italy, 1350s

"I consider women writers, lawyers and politicians as monsters and nothing but five-legged calves. The woman artist is merely ridiculous - but I am in favour of the female singer and dancer."

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, France, 1880s

"Though she [the painter Marie Laurencin] has masculine defects, she has every conceivable feminine quality. The greatest error of most women artists is that they try to surpass men, losing in the process their taste and charm. Laurencin is very different. She is aware of the deep differences that separate men and women - essential, ideal differences."

Guillaume Apollinaire, France, mid 1900s

"Perhaps in her disregard for logic, in her inconsistency and indifference to contradiction, lies the only feminine trait in the art of Suzanne Valadon, that most virile - and greatest - of all the women in painting."

Bernard Dorival, France, 1967

"No man could feel as Georgia O'Keeffe and utter himself in precisely such curves and colours; for in those curves and spots and prismatic colours there is the woman referring the universe to her own frame, her own balance; and rendering in her pictures of things her body's subconscious knowledge of itself."

Paul Rosenfeld, USA, 1920s

"Women can only create babies, say the scientists, but I say they can produce art - and Georgia O'Keeffe is the proof of it."

Alfred Stieglitz, USA, 1920s

"The men like to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I'm one of the best painters."

Georgia O'Keeffe, USA, 1920s

"Only men have the wings for art... This painting [by Lee Krasner] is so good you'd never know it was done by a woman."

Hans Hofmann, USA, 1950s

"I cannot be so many things. I cannot be something for everyone... Woman, beautiful, artist, wife, housekeeper, cook, sales lady, all these things. I cannot even be myself or know who I am."

Eva Hesse, USA, 1960s

"Women's liberation when applied to artists seems to me a naive concept. It raises issues which in this context are absurd. At this particular point in time artists who happen to be women need this particular form of hysteria like they need a hole in the head."

Bridget Riley, UK, 1960s

"If all the paintings ever painted by every woman from Sofonisba Anguissola to Gillian Ayres were thrown into the Atlantic, the history of art would not be a jot disrupted."

Brian Sewell, UK, 1991

IAIN GALE

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