This major group exhibition of contemporary women artists, across mediums, styles and genres, coincides with and responds to The Fine Art Society’s, London, representation of the radical artist Gluck (1895-1978) who, determined to be known for her art not her gender, cropped her hair, and adopted the androgynous name with “no prefix, suffix or quote.”
Following a fiercely guarded sense of individuality, the exhibition presents a selection that is domestic, functional, private, abstract, descriptive, discursive and decorative – intending to show that there is no single standard for what we consider a “woman” artist and in doing so, calling into question its own premise of staging an all-women show in 2017.
As examples of the diverse approaches on offer, the multimedia artist Phoebe Boswell’s Stranger In The Village (2015), exposes racial segregation in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden by using the online dating app Tinder. She compiled the messages she received from men during a month-long residency in the city in 2015, revealing the kind of stereotypes that were projected onto her as a result of her profile appearance. Similarly, for The Likeness Project (2016) Boswell made a series of drawings based on her Facebook profile photos and titled them according to how many “likes” they received.
By contrast, painter, printmaker and the first woman to be elected as Keeper of the Royal Academy, Eileen Cooper, whose work encompasses themes of sexuality, motherhood, life and death, presents a series of intimate new paintings and a new portrait of Constance Spry, who was a lover of Gluck’s.
Susie MacMurray produces a site-specific version of her multimedia installation Here Come The Girls (2017) which consists of 700 lipstick-stained wine glasses, in reference to binge drinking, the beauty industry and perceptions of female empowerment.
The 12 participating artists, who also include Jennifer Durrant, Vanessa Jackson and Annie Kevans, all respond to Gluck’s legacy in a show that embraces the contradiction between aspiring to offer an overview of women in art whilst defending unapologetic and innovative approaches to creative expression.
Women Artists: A Conversation, until 28 February, The Fine Art Society, London. www.fineartsociety.com
1. Susie MacMurray, Here Come the Girls (2017). Courtesy of The Fine Art Society.