The Problem of the Overlooked Female Artist: An Argument for Enlivening a Stale Model of Discussion
by Ashton Cooper for Hyperallergic
“My intention here is not to call out museums or simplistic writing, but to point out the ways in which institutions and publications — both major and minor — are guilty of perpetuating a schematic and damaging narrative about the lives of women artists. These paradigms of understanding are stale caricatures of these artists’ lives.
Part of the issue is the way that art journalism works. A hook must quickly be established to make a story seem timely, and often with women artists, the supposed “breakthrough” moment is the easiest one to reach for. One of the major consequences of this discovery narrative, however, is that it essentializes an artist’s practice and oversimplifies her achievements. We don’t look at the ways that an artist’s work changed over time or the ways in which she influenced her better-known peers. Major early milestones like exhibitions or acquisitions are left out of the story in order to foreground the triumphal moment of recognition, which leads to a monolithic understanding of what women’s art making looks like.”