Will a woman inspire the next art movement?

Go! by jennspoint
Go! by jennspoint is digital fine art created using digital collage techniques. The background is created using Gimp, and the figure is created using Second Life.

ArtNews stirred up a lot of controversy over the last week by posting what appeared to be click-bait, but was actually an update to a conversation from 1971: Why have there been no great women artists? and then Eight artists reply….

Women are great artists, but Men have inspired the movements.

Yes, yes, I know.  The title is offensive.  Maddening.  But certainly a valid question.  Of course there have been amazing women artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo among others, but we speak of them in terms of their individual accomplishments and intriguing lives.  When we speak of the greatest male artists, we tend to speak of them in terms of the art movements they inspired: Da Vinci and Michelangelo and the Renaissance, Van Gogh and Monet and the Impressionists, Rembrandt and the Romantics, Picasso and Cubism, Klimt and symbolism, Dali and Surrealism, Kandinsky and Abstract Art, Warhol and Pop art…notice they’re all men.

But why?!

Unlike some if the commentors on the articles questioning why there are no female “greatest artists,” I prefer not to focus on the fact that women’s artwork was largely unappreciated until relatively recently (although this is undoubtedly true).  One could argue that cultural male patriarchies made it difficult or impossible for women to succeed in art, but the truth is that most of the men didn’t really “succeed” either.  Many lived and died in poverty and most only became famous posthumously.

I think it might be more appropriate to focus on what qualities made the men inspirational as artists. Perhaps the reasons are more primal? Perhaps the ability to inspire movemenents was an extension of the primal need to procreate and the warrior instinct to persevere in the face of the personal and societal rejection that most artists experience in some form. Maybe it was the compulsion to lead rather than follow.

Traditionally, women have been more needed in support roles.  Their instincts were to nuture, socialize, and, if anything, “lead from behind.”

That was then, this is now.

Thankfully, we’re living at a unique time in history when both men and women in much of the world are able to explore and indulge their instincts to do all of this.  We now know that both men and women can be good nuturers, and both can be fierce warriors.  In the art world there is no longer a barrier to women being able to reach their full potential. Over the last century, women have been increasingly encouraged in their creative and artistic pursuits and the Internet has been an amazing rally point for women to get the support and resources they need in many industries, including art.

So, will future generations look back at the early 21st century, and study the works of the men AND WOMEN who were the leaders of the aftermoderism,  virtual art, or mixed media art movements?  Who will it be?  I say, Go!


    1. Hi, Kev…thanks so much, but no, I’m not doing the re-blog thing right now. Unfortunately that’s a feature I’ve seen abused far too often on sites like WordPress and Tumblr. Feel free to link to me though! 🙂 Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I completely understand, Jenn. I don’t allow reblogs on my personal site for the same reason. Since the purpose of my other blog, Great Indie Authors is to share, I leave that one on. So no worries… I’ll be back to enjoy more of your posts and am quite content to share through the social media avenues you provide. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. The answer to your question about why women were not leaders in art movements such as the Renaissance, Impressionist, and Pop Art is a quite simple one. The Renaissance period began in the early 1400s and lasted until the mid 1700s with the High Renaissance period. Women during this time were often thought of at as child-bearing property and managers of a household; the social contract of the time did not allow women to hold any occupation outside of the home, unless it was in a convent. Logically, the less women who were taught how to paint, the less opportunity to become a leading role in an art movement. Yet, despite this there were several female painters during the Renaissance time period.

    Impressionist art began in Paris in 1870s and continued until mid 1880s; and of course spread elsewhere in Europe and even to America. During this time period, women were fighting for their rights to be anything other than their husbands property. I would assume that the majority of women during this time were either submitting to their limited rights or taking action by pursuing independent careers. In addition, there were several female Impressionist painters.

    Pop art began in the mid 1950s, a time when women’s rights were just becoming a social norm. Therefore, less females making art, the less likely for one to begin a movement.

    In addition, art movements are declared by new ideas, thoughts, techniques, etc, if the majority of artist are men devoting their time to exploring art, techniques, themes, ideas, etc. then they are more likely to be known for developing a certain style. In today’s art world, I don’t imagine we will be seeing art movements quite like we did in the past. Today’s art is more or less a combination of emotion, experience, exploration, experimentation, controversy, shock-factor, and so on. And even though there are equal opportunities for men and women to ‘start a movement’ the likelihood of anyone creating something that hasn’t been done yet is rare.



    1. Hi, Heather. Thanks for stopping by and for the very thoughtful comment.

      I don’t disagree with your run-down of feminist history…it’s certainly a valid perspective. I just prefer not to dwell on the gloominess of the past. I prefer to take the torch that was handed to me by so many great women before and run with it – to take the opportunities they may not have had.

      While I understand your point that creating something new is rare, I disagree that it is less likely now than at any other time in history. Materials, distribution, and resources and mediums were far more limited in the past than they are now, so those who were able to create something new were working upstream. We now have so many resources and new technology. It is inevitable that in art as well as in so many other industries, never-imagined-before possibility is now a reality. Several people will start new movements in the near future…the only question is who?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Quite a fascinating notion. I’d never really thought of one gender or another causing artistic movements. I suspect that men are more willing to abandon responsibilities in search of self-fulfilment – but perhaps that is sexist. Funnily, most of the creative people that I know are women. Interesting. Thanks for this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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