The Evolution of Innovatory Approaches

April 27, 2008

The Evolution of Innovatory Approaches in Critical Statements of the Female Art through the Chosen Artworks of Artemisia Gentileschi, Judy Chicago, and Laurie Anderson.

In the history of art, women have always been presented in many forms of artistic creativity, basically as models of symbolic artistic inspiration, beginning as early as the Paleolithic period with the sculpture of the Venus of Willendorf, dated approximately at 28 000 – 25 000 BC. In each phase of human development, a woman’s body went through different stages of symbolic representations of negative and positive aspects of the so-called civilized world. These representations differ from one culture to another. In some cultures, women were considered the source of “Demonic” powers, such as seduction, temptation[1], sex, symbol of inconstancy, unfaithfulness, and weakness. In other cultures, women were seen as muses, ideals of beauty,[2] virtues, artistic inspirations, cunning, and fertility.

Regardless of all these symbolic attributes, the female art, except for some rare cases,[3] was not recognized as important enough to mention before the 1960-1970s. The XX century started the real revolution of women artists along with important changes in socio-political structures of Western societies. As a result, the number of female artists began to grow rapidly and more Feminist adepts followed the steps of the XX century artists, for example: Sonia Delauney, Natalia Gontcharova, Frida Kahlo, Tamara Lempicka, Georgia O’Keeffe, Barbara Kruger, Louise Bourgeoise, and others.

Jeremy Strick, Director of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, called the Feminist Art the most influential international artistic movement of the postwar period. Many art critics support his statement. Feminist Art is growing in importance. Many museums and galleries open their doors to female artists. In April of 2007, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, in order to celebrate their twenty years of existence organized an exposition titled Women Artists: 1550-1950. It was one of the most important surveys of the art of women through the four centuries.

Postmodernism allowed female art to emerge from the abyss of a Patriarchal social system to the important artistic reality of today’s Contemporary Art. Women artists have developed many innovative new ways of artistic interpretation in all kinds of media, using technology as an important source of inspiration and visual expression in Performance Art,[4] which has became almost a women’s specialty. Significant amount of Feminist artistic production concerns are still on-going, important issues of socio-political equality in the colonial system. For many Feminist artists, Art is the best way of presenting their political statement[5] of social awareness about existing inequities.

The review of selected artworks of such female artists as: Artemisia Gentileschi, Judy Chicago, and Laurie Anderson, gives us a shortcut through the time of various creative approaches by women artists, aimed at expressing important socio-political issues. In the history of women’s art, these three artists have a special place. Each of them is a precursor in the way she expresses her concerns about realities of her social environment. Through their artwork we can observe how the means of artistic creativity changed and dispersed in the universe of artistic theories. The conception of “Art” in our contemporary realities became so vast and impossible to define that only in theory and by conservative approach we might be able to conceive such definition. The outstanding creativity of these women artists opened to some degree the doors of provocative imagination in visual art, around which emerged cloned followers.

The period of time before and after Artemisia Gentileschi’s creative epoch was filled with many known and unknown female artists, active in painting, sculpture,[6] and in many other categories of art, mostly decorative, such as embroidery or manuscripts. Some of them were more talented than the others, working most of the time in family ateliers as helpers,[7] or partners.[8] Gentileschi was not well known[9], and was considered a minor painter until discovered again during the organization of the exposition titled Women Artists: 1550 to 1950, in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1976.[10] There is not much written information available about her art, because she was completely ignored by her contemporaries writing about art, such as Mancini,[11] Scannelli,[12] Bellori,[13] or Passeri.[14] What makes her paintings stand out from other canvases done by women artistes before Artemisia, or after her, is Gentileschi’s courage to broach the subject of female heroic presence in men’s world. Gentileschi was one of the first female artists with the precursory feminist views of the importance of the presence of women in the Patriarchal social order, where the role played by a woman was established by definition as domestic and procreative. She was also one of the first female painters able to provide for herself with her artwork. In regard to the times she was living in, it was an innovative approach to make a socio-political statement in her artwork through the use of biblical stories and historic al references to female heroines.[15] Her paintings are filled with the power of feminine presence in the world of men. She painted women strong both physically and mentally. Most of the bodies of her painted heroines are solid, powerful, and almost masculine.

Gentileschi did not leave many canvases, and those available to us are still of controversial origins causing disagreements among scholars.[16] One of her best known painting, Judith slaying Holofernes, (see fig.1) is the most violent image she ever painted, and it was a theme which she interpreted a few times in different ways during her artistic carrier.[17]She painted the first interpretation[18] of the biblical story of Judith and Holofernes[19] between the years 1612th and 1613th. The year 1612th was that of the Agostino Tassi’s trial for rape of Artemisia Gentileschi.[20] Tassi was a painter and close collaborator of her father’s Orazio Gentileschi. According to many scholars, it is possible that the choice of the subject was motivated by her personal experiences of the trial, during which Gentileschi suffered public humiliation. She was tortured with thumbscrews and passed gynecological exams in order to proof the rape accusations in court. Most scholars and art critics agree, that Artemisia painted the scene probably as an expression of her desire to avenge her humiliation. Under the cover of the biblical story she depicted her psychological state of mind and her frustration with the man as a principal cause of her misfortune. By scrutinizing the painting’s symbolic elements of composition we might agree with some previously proposed interpretations by different scholars. Marcia Pointon[21] (1991) for example, suggested that Artemisia recomposed previously painted version on the theme by Caravaggio[22] to depict the murder of Holofernes through the imagery of childbirth. Her arguments are based on the position of Holofernese’s arms, which symbolize the woman’s opened tights in “V” shape, and the mouth of the Assyrian general as the shape of a vagina surrounded by hair and a bird as a reference to pubic hairs. Also the positioning of the bodies of Judith and her maid Abra refer to the way the midwife would be placed with her assistant during the process of child delivery.Dissecting the painting with visual attention makes such interpretation possible. With a little more imagination, the left arm of Holofernes might as well be symbolic of a phallus, as remarked earlier by Joseph Slap (1985) in his interpretation of Gentileschi’s painting. Taylor Graeme (1984) refers to the first version of Gentileschi’s painting from 1612th as a combination of both, childbirth and castration processes. His assumptions were based on the analyzes of the folds on Holofernes neck. All these interpretation are possible and quite convincing after closer studies of the painting’s compositional elements. However, such deductive approach might as well be a matter of simple coincidences and the artist did not intend any of it. What is interesting in Gentileschi’s interpretation of this biblical story is the emphasis on the violent depiction of the event. The theme of Judith and Holofernes was presented by her contemporaries, as well as earlier living artists,[23] in completely different ways. All of them were males. Their depiction of the biblical tale is very static and gentle, in some cases even elegant, where all aspects of such violent act are rather suggestive not active as is Gentileschi’s case. Caravaggio was one of the first to illustrate the biblical episode in action. The act itself does not have as much energy as Gentileschi’s version. The reason for such different approach is evident. Gentileschi painted her version of Judith’s story based on her own tragic experiences. She was certainly inspired by Caravaggio’s interpretation of this tale, as she was a great lover of his artwork and a faithful follower of his painting style, which she successfully adopted with her father’s help. What makes this painting stand out from any other interpretation of this theme before is her very personal touch of a woman’s brush. She exteriorized through this story her female wounded dignity.

Gentileschi changed the compositional angle in order to create three dimensional and very powerful images. Playing with the chiaroscuro technique, she very adeptly created a tragic atmosphere of the moment of murder. The violence is just bursting out at the spectator from Gentileschi’s canvas. In the second version (see fig.2) of the same theme, the image is even more powerful, as the blood is almost spouting at the viewer in parabolic movements. The significant difference between these two versions is the way the blood projects from the Holofernes’s neck. Mary Garrard explains it in her story about Artemisia, as a possible homage to Galileo’s theory of the trajectory of the planets. Gentileschi knew Galileo, and he helped her on one occasion to receive a payment for two paintings she sent to Ferdinand II. It seems possible, but what probably happened, was the artist’s observation of a real slaughter of animals in the butcher’s shop or some other place in order to depict such a violent act more realistically. In the second version of this biblical story, the blood flow is much more realistic than in the first. At the same time it emphasizes the movement of the cutting hand.

Regardless of all these deductive suppositions, Gentileschi succeeded as an artist and as a woman in making a strong socio-political statement. A statement of frustration and dissatisfaction with the existing social order created and maintained by the Patriarchal system. By such convincingly elaborated picture she gave expression to her voice, a voice of disapproval for the surrounding realities of women’s existence and their sexual exploitation. Many scholars suggest that the principal inspiration for Gentileschi’s particularly violent interpretation of the biblical tale Judith beheading Holofernes, was her rape by Tassi. Taking in consideration her first signed artwork Susanna and the Elders, (see fig.3), however, it is evident that even before the rape Gentileschi was already conscious and concerned with the social fragility of the female in the society of her day. It is possible that Gentileschi as a young girl[24] already contested her contemporary realities in her first signed painting. The violent depiction of Judith beheading Holofernes could just be a continuation of her discontent. The expressive approach to the subject could be emphasized by her personal disappointment with the male gender. There is no proof of what really happened between Gentileschi and Tassi. Whether Agostino raped Artemisia, or whether she was in love with him[25] does not change the fact of her discontent. In either case, she was mislead by the man she believed would respect her honor and keep his promises.[26] Gentileschi depiction of Judith beheading Holofernes is as shocking to the viewer as it was shocking for Gentileschi to be lied to. She expresses her emotional state and her disapproval of dishonesty in the strongest way possible. By cutting the head of Holofernes, she contests symbolically the end of Patriarchal tyranny and injustice towards women. It is a visual protest against the omnipresent sexism and exploitation of women. By her pictorial statement she rejected the conventional feminine role imposed on women by men.

The studies of Gentileschi’s other paintings[27] reveals that in most of the themes of her canvases, her heroines are often subjected to rape or other misfortunes in a world ruled by men. Her artwork is about the fight against the underestimated significance of women’s values in the society she lived in. With her beautifully colored, honest, and magnificent compositions she imposes on her contemporaries the image of women as heroes. Gentileschi overwrites the reduction of women’s significance by men to that of an object of sexual desires. Her later paintings,[28] starting from 1630, are calmer and focused less on the sexist aspects of the female images surrounding her. For example, in her paintings Clio, The Muse of History, or Corsica and the Satir, she is promoting the intellectual qualities of the female kind. Gentileschi proves her precursory qualities in depicting the subjects of her paintings once more in her self-portrait The Allegory of Painting (see fig.4), a composition of great economy and virtuosity, but most of all marked by the novelty of portraying an artist. Her approach to presenting the self-imagery of a female artist in such different and elaborate way, filled with perfectly balanced symbolism, has been not seen before. She painted herself in a parabolic inclination of the entire body, suggesting the steps of artistic creativity. The point of departure is placed on the palette kept in her left hand and is raising up, passing through a sophisticated drapery of her creativity, through the head of the artist’s mind where the final picture is made and the information is sent to be executed by the right hand holding the brush. It is an ingenious way to portray an artist. She summarized all the necessary elements to explain how an artist’s mind works. She presents a suggestive diagram of artistic creativity. Gentileschi is really special and the only one with such intellectually complex taste. She depicted herself as a woman artist and a muse at work at the same time. Artemisia was conscious of her values as a female artist. The remaining correspondence between her and her costumers proves it clearly.[29] Gentileschi used the art of painting to represent women’s abilities to achieve as great things as men did. She firmly states her position against existing social inequities. By her particular creative approach, her socio-political statement was noticed, at least in the cultivated circles of the Baroque society.

After Gentileschi, many female artists[30] created significant quantities of intellectually and technically great artworks. Many of them were searching and exploring different possibilities offered by painting mediums. Some of them, as for example, Camille Claudel, tried sculpting in a particularly male domain in art with the great success. However, the real progress in female art came after the cultural and sexual revolution of 1968 and the birth of the second[31] wave of the Feminist movement. The search of women artists for different visual ways to express many issues and concerns related to women’s socio-political status was initiated by cultural and sexual freedom. Women artists started to explore a variety of possibilities available to them besides the traditional mediums. Judy Chicago was one of the most intriguing female artists of the twentieth century. In her artwork she is wandering over the world surrounding her through the prism of her feminine sensibility. Like Schneemann,[32] her creativity is submerged by almost obsessive sexuality of female organs as a principal weapon of visual manifestation of female achievements against the prude environment around her. At the same time, she is not afraid to make a strong statement referring to her feminine realities of the inner world of women intimacy, presenting it to the Patriarchal conservative system. Her best-known piece of art is the brilliant creation titled The Dinner Party.[33] It is one of the most controversial pieces of art in the second part of twentieth century. The process of making this composition took Chicago years and 400 hundred volunteers and was as difficult to make as it was difficult to find a site to expose it. The cost of production and storage exceeded over half a million dollars, from which a significant part was paid by the artist herself, and it took her five years to realize it.[34] Regardless of the explicit nature of some of the imagery on the plates, Chicago’s concept of creating an installation of collective statements through the products linked to what are considered as typically feminine activities, which included weaving, embroidery, and sewing, as well as porcelain painting, was simply brilliant and extremely well executed.

The artwork contains 1,038 names[35] of women personalities arranged accordingly to their distinctive cultural significance in the feminine history and consists of hundred objects. The structure is composed from three tables in the shape of a triangle, which historically symbolizes a geometric figure of the female gender. Each side has thirteen plates completed with beautifully embroidered covers with the total of thirty-nine names[36] of famous women through the entire history of Western civilization. The base and the inside floor on which the triangular composition stands, are filled up with the remaining female names. Each side of the triangular table has a decorative commemorative plate with painted or three-dimensional form of metamorphic vaginal futures representing each of the thirty-nine female personalities. Chicago’s entire installation creates an impression on the visitor of participating in the women’s last supper.[37] The triangular form of lighting from the top to the center of the composition enforces the atmosphere of a commemorative banquet, or as a religious altar.

The first exhibit of Chicago’s piece took place in 1979, in The Museum of Contemporary Art in San Francisco, causing a great controversy and divisions between art critics of both genders. The media exploded with an overwhelming variety of interpretations of Chicago’s work. In 1979, such extended visualization of the female reproductive organs was still shocking for many. In today’s realities, it would not have such impact and probably would not grow to the legendary proportions as it did than. However, it would certainly be recognized as an interesting artistic venture. The journalist Dorothy Shinn described Chicago’s installation as “Religiofication of the Feminist cause.” Hilton Kramer, from The New York Times, described it as an “Art of Kitsch.” Thomas Albright from San Francisco Art News, wrote that it is overdone like a “Russian Easter Egg.” Charles Cowles, the Seattle curator of Modern Art, did not consider The Dinner Party[38] as a Fine Art, but “an interesting project by a group of women of whom the leader was an artist.” Besides all of these in favor, ironic, or bad critics, instantly another polemic instantly sprang around Chicago’s artwork in reference to the anonymity of the great number of the volunteers[39] involved in her project.[40] It was an unnecessary addition to the devastating critique of this interesting piece of art. Chicago’s attempt to neutralize the vaginal confusion among her critics by referring to it rather as butterfly compositions, is hard to digest and is not very convincing to anyone, even to those with limited imagination. However, the artist admits that “the reading and understanding of this work might be confusing.”

Chicago’s precursory approach to commemorate all the best-known female individualities through the historic chronology of the entire Western civilization became her socio-political signature and her trademark at the same time. Not everyone understood the intellectual symbolism of her project. Feminist activists criticized her for reducing women basically to vaginal fast food, or as an extended grave of feminist actions. It is true, that such experimental way to expose women’s accomplishments was a little risky if taking into consideration the feminists’ oversensitive fragility motivated by omnipresent sexism in the society. Chicago’s intentions to impose on the conservative Patriarchal system the overwhelming presence of female intellectual values and physicality in the male world through the history of time, was the use of the most feminine symbol of all, the procreative female organs. Her intentions went astray in the conservative elements that were missing the hidden, deeper meaning of Chicago’s artistic interpretation. As Gentileschi in her epoch, Chicago uses the symbolism in order to make a strong statement about women’s presence in the male world for centuries, contesting at the same time the existing inequity of women’s social status. At the same time, her ironic choice of telling the story of women’s achievements through a vaginal dialogue was probably intentional because it is the only dialogue majority of men would be attracted to. That’s the only way she could have the attention of the Patriarchal society. Through metamorphic vaginal exposure, Chicago caricaturizes at the same time the perception of the female gender held by most individuals, even today.

Regardless to all the various criticism of Chicago’s approach to mark women uncontestable presence on the road of the Western cultural progress, one must admit its revolutionary impact in the way of conceiving art. If Marcel Duchamp could be considered as a father and as a spiritual leader of the new expression of artistic creativity, Judy Chicago would be the mother of an innovative concept of an artistic vision. The Dinner Party is neither a painting nor a sculpture, but it is a composite of both completed with textile crafts. Chicago created a new narrative concept of artistic expression. In order to be completed, her creative installation needs the public’s participation, as the press needs readers in order to create a communication between the intellectual content of the presented theme and the intellectual digestion of the receivers. There would not be any dinner served if there were to be no guests present at the table. Chicago’s menu of The Dinner Table is acceptable only to the lovers of a very elaborate social palette. What makes the Chicago’s project vulgar to some recipients is their prudish attitude to the innovative way of conceiving and communicating important social statements. Chicago’s three-dimensional concept of socio-political manifestation opened the doors to liberation of artistic means in creative thinking.

The technological progress in many areas of human activities brought important socio-political changes. The social status of women evolved significantly as the Patriarchal socio-political concept of society submitted itself to a certain level of radical liberalism towards the Feminists issues of social equality in many areas of professional activities, which were traditionally reserved for the male gender. The Postmodern flexibility admitted a multidirectional outline with absent conceptual restrictions within the platform of artistic activities. The technology began to play a significant role in artistic creative explorations. The product of the digital numeric world such as cameras, videos, mobile phones, computers, and various electronic devices became a source of creative inspirations, as well as useful elements in conceiving a contemporary image of artistic expression. The female artists embraced the possibilities offered by the speeding technological progress in their creative artistic manifestations. One of the most progressive female artists of the digital age is without a doubt Laurie Anderson. She started to perform in 1974,[41] gaining fast popularity among a public hungry for intellectual novelty. Her precursory artistic creativity involves electronically modifying music, voice, storytelling, gestures, photography, videos, lighting, theatre, ritual, dance, and computer technology to coordinate her elaborate artistic performances. Laurie Anderson is a product of the new contemporary and progressive wave of feminine intellectual talent raised on technological inventions. Each of her meticulously coordinated artistic performances contains projected imagery, electronically controlled lights, and musical arrangements. Anderson uses archival pictures, films, and videos to refer to the public involvement in collective experience (Sartre, 1960)[42]. She creates an unusually spectacular ballet of the technological means united and lead by the artist for the purpose of socio-political and highly intellectual statements. Anderson is piercing the spectators’ minds with her concerns about such issues as: “New Global Order,” social inequities, deforestation, pollution, environment protection, socio-political conflicts, automatism of today’s societies, loneliness and isolation of individuals in overpopulated cities, incontrollable technological development, overwhelming invasion of commercial consumption, human behavior, and what is most surprising, Anderson is fighting all these issues with no more and no less, but the products of modern societies. To some degree, she embraces the technology to contest it.

In contrast to Gentileschi and Chicago, Anderson’s concerns go father than just feminine issues. She is commenting on every aspect of today’s complicated realities. Her ironic comments are filled with the complex wit of her artistic intellect. With her electronic violin and pantomimic movements on the stage, supported with the imagery in the background, Anderson promotes an art of the future. She is like an angel announcing and warning about the certitude of the past and incertitude of the future. With the sophisticating simplicity of modified instrumental sounds and her synthesized voice she is expressing her consciousness about inevitable negativities of social changes. Anderson’s music is extremely well balanced and perfectly synchronized with her voice, imagery, and her movements. Her sung stories are always funny, ironic, and politically to the point.

The largest Anderson’s performances are United States. She realized these performances in four parts, and each of them last approximately seventy-five minutes. She finalized the project in 1983. In each of them she is reviewing every aspect of American culture referring to politics, social habits, television, media, education, social values, relationship, and constantly changing and never satisfying humans.

Anderson reflects the realities of Contemporary societies, in particular Americans expansionistic socio-economic consummation through her elaborate choreography of the technological medium. Anderson approaches every subject with respect and neutrality in order to preserve a comfortable relationship with her audience. Her storytelling is always associated with the appropriate imagery and sound, as in the compositions, Only An Expert,[43] National Anthem,[44] Language is a Virus,[45] or O Superman,[46] where we hear in the background the sounds of urban and domestic activities associated respectively with the content of the songs. For example sounds of cell phones, kitchen sounds, TV, and answering machines.

Laurie Anderson’s compositions represent a new concept of artistic entertainment combined with socio-political statement of public responsibility and awareness of all destructive actions.

In her performances, Anderson is reflecting the mirror image of today’s societies, showing the ridiculous consequences of the ridiculous actions of the highly individualistic Capitalist societies.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Judy Chicago, and Laurie Anderson represent an innovative attitude in the development of women artistic creativities through the last five hundred years of Western culture. Their artistic achievements serve as examples of artistic inspirations and creative motivations for the new generations of talented women, present and those to come. Through the artwork of Gentileschi, Chicago, and Anderson, we can observe how complex their perception of feminine values was. They were fighting their respective wars with intelligence, talent, persistence, and grace. Each of these creative minds of feminine artistic progress and the efforts to gain recognition within their respective social environments, are united by their desire to create a better tomorrow, a better world, a world of equality and respect for everyone. In Anderson’s case, it is also about awareness, of social consciousness in global terms. What united these artists are their respective innovative concepts of socio-political statements through the medium of Art.

[1] Biblical Eve. “Varium et mutabile semper femina” – Women are always inconsistent and variable – Eneida – Virgile. “Woman is variable as the feather in the air” – Rigoletto, Verdi. Eve, Bible.

[2] Helene of Troy, Greek & Roman mythology – Aphrodite. Venus, Beatrice – Dante, Margaret – Faust, Goethe, Laura – Petrarque.

[3] First written mention of women as an artist, especially in craft of textiles and poetry, appear in writings of Homer, Cicero and Virgile. In Medieval period women from better-situated social circles and aristocracy, or clergy were involved in production of elaborated tissue embroideries, or manuscripts illuminations. Some of the best known in the Middle Age were; Ende, Diemudus, Guda, Claricia, Herrade of Landsberg and Hildegard of Bingen. In RenaissanceEra the most known among few others was Sofonisba Anguissola. During the Baroque Artemisia Gentileschi was remarkable among many others. Angelica Kauffmann marked the XVIII century. During the XIX the number of women artists significantly arouse with a names as Suzanne Valadon, Berthe Morissot, Mary Cassatt, Camille Claudel including many other.

[4] Artists as Carolee Schneemann, Laurie Andreson, Annie Sprinkle, or Marina Abramovic are among many others using the performance as a way to communicate their socio-political statements.

[5] Guerrilla Girls (established in New York in 1985) is an international organization of masked women artists fighting sexism and racism in the World of Art, using publications and personal appearances to expose to the society their concerns.

[6] Camille Claudel, sculptor who inspired Rodin in his work, to whom she was a model and lover.

[7] Jan Brueghel the Elder uses a help of his daughter Anna.

[8] Orazio Gentileschi was periodically working with his daughter Artemisia, whom he himself instructed in the art of painting. She became later one of the most known female painters of Baroque period.

[9] The scholar Roberto Longhi, who in his essay Gentileschi Padre e Figlia, was not too much in favor of her talent, introduced Gentileschi to the public already in 1916th. He corrected this injustice later. Another publication about Artemisia, before the 1976 exposition, was her biography written by the Longhi’s wife, Anna Banti in 1947. This biography, titled Artemisia, is considered as the most beautifully written about a woman artist, by an artist.

[10] The exposition was inspired by the article of Linda Nochlin Why Have There been no Great Women Artists? written in 1971.

[11] Giulio Mancini (1558-1630), born in Sienna, art collector and writer.

[12] Francesco Scannelli, auteur of Il Microcosmo delle pittura, overro trattato divisio in due libri, a treaties about Italian painting published in 1657.

[13] Giovanni Pietro Bellori (1613-1696), biographer of the Italian Baroque artistes.

[14] Giuseppe Passeri (1654-1714), Italian Baroque painter and art writer.

[15] Judith and Holofernes, Lucretia and Tarquin, Bathsheba and David, Suzanna and the Elders, Cleopatra, Mary Magdalena, Saint Cecilia, Minerva, Jael and Sisera.

[16] Scholars, Ward Bissell and Mary Garrard, agreed only on 26 Gentileschi’s paintings from a total of 57 cataloged by Bissell, as her own.

[17] The theme Judith slaying Holofernes, Gentileschi painted different variations of it 7 times, as much as the theme David and Bathesba.

[18] Artemisia Gentileschi painted the first version of Judith slaying Holofernes in 1612th – 1613th, and the second sometimes around 1619th – 1620th. The second version seems more violent than the first because of the spurting blood.

[19] Judith, a Jewish widow from noble family, charmed the Assyrian General Holofernes, with the intention to murder him and in the same time liberate her nation from the pagan oppressive enemy. After making Holofernes drunk and falling a sleep, she cut the general’s head with the help of her maid Abra. They brought the Holofernes head to the Jewish camp, insuring their victory over their enemy.

[20] Orazio Gentileschi hired his collaborator Agostino Tassi, who was known from his technical knowledge of building perspectives, to teach Artemisia about it. Tassi considered a secondary painter, use the opportunity to seduce and rape Artemisia when she was nineteen and by promises of marriage he was able to continue the sexual relationship with her almost one year, until her father learned about it. Orazio, filled betrayed decided to seek a legal justice for dishonor of his and his daughter reputation. Tassi was prosecuted and put in prison. According to various sources he spent in jail 5 month, 8 month, or one year. The final few pages of the verdict are missing from the archives, that is why there do not exist proofs of the exact judgment. However, it is known that in the end he was pardoned and let to be free. The most recent research conducted by Alexandra Lapierre, the auteur of biographical novel Artemisia (1998), reveal that Tassi was charged and had a choice to be send for five years of hard labor or exile from Rome. He chooses exile, but was back in Rome after four month, probably because of his connections in higher social circles. He was also previously charged with rape of his daughter in law and the disappearance of his wife, whom he married after raping her.

[21] Marcia Pointon is a Professor of Art history at The University of Manchester.

[22] The theme of Judith and Holofernes Caravaggio painted in 1598th and 1599th.

[23] Donatello, Sandro Botticelli, Andrea Montegna, Giorgione, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Jan Massys, or Christofano Allori.

[24] Artemisia Gentileschi was 17 years old when she painted Susanna and the Elders.

[25] In the movie Artemisia, (1998) realized by Agnes Merlet, the story of Gentileschi’s rape is presented as a love affaire between two consent adults. Such interpretation of Gentileschi’s story raises controversial concerns by the feminist organizations in USA and Canada.

[26] Agostino Tassi could not keep his promises, even if he wished to do so. He was already married at the time he met Gentileschi, what excluded him automatically from serious consideration for future husband. For several months he took advantage of Artemisia promising her marriage.

[27] Lucretia and Tarquin, Bathsheba and David, Suzanna and the Elders, Cleopatra, Mary Magdalena, Jael and Sisera, Esther before Ahasureus, Saint Cecilia.

[28] Allegory of Painting, Clio, the Muse of History, Lot and His Daughters, and Corsica and the Satir.

[29] In the letter to Antonio Ruffo, dated August 7th, 1649 (Garrard 394), she wrote, ”I will show your Illustrious Lordship what woman can do.” In another letter to the same person written the November 13th, 1649 (Garrard 397), she assured Ruffo that he will like her work and “will find the spirit of Caesar in this soul of the woman.”

[30] Rosalba Carriera, Constanca Mayer, Maria Cosoway, Giulia Lama, Angelica Kauffmann, Marie-Denise Villers, Adrienne Grandpierre-Deverzy, Marie-Guillemine Benoist, Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun, Rosa Bonheur, Marie Bashikrtseff, Berthe Morrisot, Marry Cassat, Sophie Anderson, Emily Osborn, Suzanne Valadon, Dora Carrington. Sonia Delaunay, Natalia Goncharova, Tamara Lempicka, Dorothea Tanning, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo.

[31] The Feminist Movement is divided on three periods. First is the period of 19th to beginning of 20th, second is the 1960th to 1980th, and the third is from 1990 to the present.

[32] Carolee Schneemann, was one of the first female performance artist.

[33] The Dinner Partywas exposed in Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 1982, and attracted a record amount of seventy-five thousands visitors.

[34] Chicago was working on The Dinner Party installation from 1974 to 1979.

[35] Nine hundred ninety-nine names are placed on the floor and thirty-nine on the tables.

[36] The thirty-nine names of female personalities are: From The Prehistory to The Roman Empire: Primordial Goddess, Fertility Goddess, Ishtar, Kali, Snake Goddess, Sophia, Amazon, Hatshepsut, Judith, Sappho, Aspasia, Boudica, Hypatia. From the Beginnings of Christianity to the Reformation: Marcella, Saint Bridget, Theodora of Bizantium, Hrosvitha, Trotula of Salerno, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hildegard of Bingen, Petronilla de Meath, Christine de Pisan, Isabella d’Este, Elizabeth I of England, Artemisia Gentileschi, Anna van Schurman. From the American to the Women’s Revolution: Anne Hutchinson, Sakajawea, Caroline Herschel, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Blackwel, Emily Dickinson, Ethel Smyth, Margaret Sanger, Natalie Barney, Virginia Woolf, Georgia O’Keefffe.

[37] Lolette Kuby mentioned in her 1981 review mentioned a heard remark during her visit of The Dinner Party exposition.

[38] The Dinner Party controversial content was not an easy seller to the museums spaces as many museums institutions considered it as handcraft installation excluded any connections with Fine Arts status. After the international tour of Chicago’s project, she was obligated to put the entire installation in the storage, because of luck of interest to accord a permanent space to her artwork. After eight years of storage the installation was revived by The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center in Los Angeles 1990 exposition titled Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party in Feminist Art History. Important women artistes as for example, Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgois, Mary Beth Edelson, Joyce Kozloff, Myriam Shapiro, Joan Snyder, Nancy Spero, and June Wayne, refused to participate as their considered disturbing to the company of their artwork the overwhelming focus on Judy’s Chicago installation piece in the museum and the exposition’s catalog. The exposition was motivated by a controversy around Chicago’s attempt to donate the artwork to The University of The District of Columbia, when group of conservative politicians issue a warning to stop the federal foundlings, if the artwork would be accepted.

[39] In contrast to Chicago, the Canadian artist Joyce Wieland (1931-1998) she paid and recognized her helpers.

[40] Chicago was criticized for appropriation of all merits to her selves and not acknowledged appropriately all participants by their names. She was accused of exploitation of her unpaid helpers.

[41] In 1980, Laurie Anderson started to record her first song O Superman.

[42] Jean-Paul Sartre. Critique of Dialectical Reason, 1960.

[43] Ironic view of American society entirely based on experts.

[44] Philosophical, ironic reflection on the place of the culture in American society of today.

[45] Pantomimic movements with the sounds of TV language, a modern reflection on the pollution of the world media.

[46] Very theatrical performance, with hand gestures projected on the white circle and references to the astronomic forces, spiced with answering machine voices.


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Fantasy World

Fantasy World

Exploring the Imaginary: A Glimpse into the Fantasy World of Drawing Embark on a visual journey with me as I share the sketches that constitute my daily...