Women In Art, or should I say, Women Out of Art

Pauline Boty
Rosalyn Drexler
Idelle Weber
Letty Lou Eisenhauer
Jann Haworth

After watching the BBC programme 'Pop Go The Women: The Other Story of Pop Art' - A Culture Show Special I wanted to know more so I watched it again.  This programme is about the female Pop Artists who were brilliant but have generally been ignored since their heyday. In the succeeding years they were not considered important or good enough to be written about, or shown in galleries amongst their male counterparts.  At the time they struggled to be shown, some even refused to show women artists at all due to the huge weight of Art being traditionally a male domain. Because of this tradition men could generate more money so women suffered at the time and they suffered after too.

It's sad that such talent has been neglected, but at the same time, it's great to know that there is more to the Pop Art movement that we can discover if only curators and writers and the Art establishment would give them a chance.  Quite frankly, it gets a bit boring when we keep seeing the same old mega names like Lichtenstein and Warhol. It's great when you are a new student, a fan, or new to Art History, but a bore if you've been around looking at this stuff for a while. It's limiting us all in not representing a balanced understanding of the times.  Basically, women were there too, so let's see the whole picture.

If these works were for sale today they would be a lot cheaper than an Andy Warhol, which isn't a bad thing. I'm not saying that they would be cheap by any means, but less expensive.

Many people would rather buy an inferior work by a big male name than a good work by a smaller female name, but just because that male name goes for an absurd amount of money does not make it necessarily great. We need to see beyond the picture and look at the whole Art market to understand why this is really happening.

This programme was about Pop Art specifically but of course this gender problem in Art has a long history, sadly. The further one goes back the more we can understand where this absurd idea that women could not paint came from. They were simply not allowed to do it except to paint pretty pictures of flowers and such and would not have been allowed to be part of any kind of promotion of themselves. Women were there to look after others.  This way of being was still around in the 50's and 60's. Despite the sexual revolution (which benefited men) women were still in the dark ages.

I hope this programme, presented by Alistair Sooke, starts to change the one-sided view that still exists today. We need to be less ignorant of these prejudices and start to ask more questions when women aren't represented properly and not be afraid to challenge the established way of thinking. Because it's still happening right now.

                                Figures in Motion
                                Rosalyn Drexler
                                Her style recently appropriated for the opening credits of the Mad Men Series.


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