The stereotype that many people attribute to artists: poor, unknown, and striving to gain success in an "impossible" field is harsh, although unfortunately has a stigma of truth to it. Art is a hard field to make it in, and throughout history, many incredibly famous artists have experienced the struggles that can come along with trying to make a living as a full-time artist. Van Gogh didn't achieve worldwide success until much after his death, many of Picasso's paintings were considered "unskilled" and "childlike" during his lifetime, and even El Greco, a painter during the Spanish Renaissance that sparked an entire movement in the Mannerism period, often named for El Greco himself, was not recognized until long after his death in 1614. What becomes an even more significant challenge in this situation, is female artists.
It's no secret that women have been given significantly less opportunities than men throughout history, not being allowed to join the military until 1918, not gaining the right to vote until 1920, and even today, receiving an average 75 cents to every dollar made by a man. However, the restrictions and prejudice held against women throughout time has in no way stopped them from making strides and taking control of their lives in order to do what they love, and this is no different when it comes to art. Even though most recognized Renaissance painters are male, many women also painted during this time, and historians and art critics continue to discover new artists such as Gentileschi; famous for her baroque style pieces, often said to depict her emotions regarding her past of sexual assault and abuse. Georgia O'Keefe, although born in a different era, also proves that despite the many regulations women have faced throughout history, women have continued to work hard to gain success in fields they are truly passionate about.
Myself, as a female hoping to build a career in the art world, found it refreshing to read about a female artist for a change. Despite the fact that I've secretly loved O'Keefe since the 2nd grade (when my best friend Bekah portrayed her in our school play and I ended up rocking a bald wig as Picasso) it had been a while since I'd heard any updates on her work, and it was so exciting to hear that her piece, Jimson Weed, White Flower No. 1, sold for 44.4 MILLION dollars, becoming the highest selling painting by a female artists in all of history. Although the price is significant, what I found most exciting is simply that O'Keefe is gaining the worldwide success she has always deserved, and through all of this, opening up the world to many other female artists who continue to do what they love even in the face of adversity. In April 2014, a rumor spread that the New York City located modern art museum, MoMA, would be displaying an exhibit of entirely female artists. Although this rumor ended up being false, I truly hope it is still taken into consideration and perhaps attempted elsewhere, as I personally think it would be so interesting to observe women's contributions to the art world throughout time. In fact, I hope that if an exhibit such as this ever exists, it will feature art created by women throughout all period of history rather than just modern day, to show the world once and for all that women artists have been making an impact since the beginning.
Overall, reading these articles was incredibly exciting, although I did occasionally find myself becoming frustrated by some of the statements quoted by critics, such as "Women don't paint very well. It's a fact." stated by the male painter George Baselitz in 2013. Statements such as these prove that stigma still exists within the art world, and gaining equal rights for men and women, within the art field or outside, is going to be a long and hard process. However, advancements in the field such as O'Keefes recent success, the talk of featuring "all women" exhibits in galleries, and the numerous female artists that continue to work at what they love today prove that we are on our way to more equality and female recognition in the art world.