Beyond the Model: Women Artists and Photographers from the Art Museum Collection explores female artists and photographers who have been influential to art history. The exhibition is the second in a series on women artists from the Art Museum collection.
Women have been the subject of the most famous works of art, however as artists they have been historically underrepresented. Often it was only aristocratic women who had access to some training in art, yet many women chose marriage over art. The most recognized female artists were either nuns, children of painters, or the spouse of an artist. Their subjects were typically scenes of mothers and children and still-lifes since women were not allowed to train from nude models; they drew on imagery that was familiar. Although it wasn’t until the Feminist Movement in the 1960s and 70s that sparked the exploration of this gender bias, the marginalization of female artists persisted. Many women artists were married to well-known artists and often put their own artistic careers on hold to support their spouse, not gaining recognition until late in their careers.
The advent of photography allowed women artists to explore image-making more freely as there were no traditional restrictions or established training to hold them back. While the earliest women photographers were married to the male pioneers, they quickly broke free and opened their own studios. As amateur woman photographers began to exhibit, they received support and encouragement from their male counterparts. No subject was off limits as women photographers produced portraits and landscapes, and participated in photojournalism during World War I. Contemporary women photographers continue to break ground in the field of photography by exploring new techniques, subjects and pushing the boundaries of the medium.
Selected from the UW Art Museum’s permanent collection, Beyond the Model provides a glimpse at the means in which women artists redefine what it means to be a female artist.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, you may find this book interesting: