I’m taking an art course surveying the history of women in art and it’s blowing my mind! Not that I should be surprised by the vast contribution of women but da*n! The objectification and diminishing of our work really angers me. The skill set and beauty of so many works of art is stunning though. Many of us may be familiar with Frida Kahlo or Georgia O’Keefe for example but what about Edmonia Lewis?
This week we’re covering Expressionism which distorts and exaggerates for emotional impact. I’m drawn to the work of artist Niki de Saint Phalle . Her sculpture series Nana is very colorful and gargantuan. It’s a gross exaggeration of the average “woman” and could be seen as fearful or as superhuman. It indicates a powerful figure that was the antithesis of the typical image of women in art as conquered, subjugated, non-human objects seen through the eyes of men.
There’s a fluidity and a power with the raised arms and the fact the figure is standing, not contorted and not diminished in any way. The exaggeration is meant to reorder that common devaluing. It seems as if she is celebrating the triumph of spirit. She continued a similar progressiveness with her later work. On a personal level I really appreciate the fullness of the body and the other worldliness of her work. Yes, she was influenced by Gaudi but it’s her personal life that also intrigues me. She struggled with the idea of being independent with fulfilling the role of wife and mother. It would seem this is a universal dichotomy for many women.