Tonight, I co-hosted the Bangkok edition of the global ‘Art + Feminism’ Wikipedia campaign.
Nine people total came together in a Bangkok café to learn about Wikipedia, to find out about art and to add/edit/translate articles about woman-identified artists to improve coverage of women-identified artists across the world. At the end of the night, these were our accomplishments:
– Creation of article about Chinese artist Xiao Lu.
– Creation of article about Bengali artist Pratima Devi.
– Translation of article about Indigenous Australian artist Tracey Moffatt into Italian.
– Translation of article about Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook into Thai.
– Translation of article about Chinese artist Bu Hua into English.
– Addition of Xiao Lu’s participation into article about the China Avant-garde Exhibition 1989.
– Addition of the following quote into article about French artist Marie Bracquemond: “The severity of Monsieur Ingres frightened me… because he doubted the courage and perseverance of a woman in the field of painting… He would assign to them only the painting of flowers, of fruits, of still lifes, portraits and genre scenes.”
Over the next few months, I will be creating Artist Features about each of these artists on this blog.
Thank you to everyone who participated, and to everyone who will continue researching, writing and learning about women-identified artists!
Bangladesh Liberation War (1971) by Bangladeshi artist Zainul Abudin, who helped form the Faculty of Fine Arts at Dhaka University.
Reader Question: “I come from Bangladesh and find that Western art history doesn’t do much to help understand the artistic traditions where I’m from – how is this addressed in your study of Art History? Is it addressed at all?”
Western art history – or at least mainstream Western art history – really does very little to address the artistic traditions of non-Western countries. Many people find this perfectly acceptable, arguing that Western art history is about Western countries and shouldn’t have to address anything beyond that. For me, there are three problems with this point of view that should push us towards a more inclusive art historical mainstream.
Three examples of images from the Western art history canon: the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, Le Promenade by Claude Monet, and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso. These paintings, artists, and movements (High Renaissance, Impressionism and Cubism, respectively) have all been extensively explored in art history.
Reader question: “What do you think are the most exciting fields in art history which haven’t been properly explored?”
Oh – this is a tough but great question!
It’s tough because there are just so many areas of art history that haven’t been properly explored. There are certain “popular” areas of art history that tend to get the most amount of attention in scholarship. These areas usually adhere to the Western art history canon.
Strolling About In Spring by Zhan Ziqian can be classified as “Sui Dynasty Chinese art” – not really a well-known “art movement” according to mainstream art history.
Reader question: “Are all artists and their works classified as part of a particular movement? Like, are all artists Impressionists, Romanticists, etc.?”
The short answer is: no.
The long answer is: no, but the fact that so much of art history is focused on “movements” reflects a great deal about the way that mainstream Western art history operates. The reason for this focus on art movements is that this sort of classification means that it’s easier to talk about an artwork’s style, influence and cultural meaning. It’s useful. But it’s also pretty limiting if it’s the only way that we look at art history.