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Fine Art Connoisseur


Portraying Women Artists & Re-Envisioning History

by Jeffrey Carlson, Editor, Fine Art Today


25 September 2014


Why have so many highly skilled, visionary female artists been forgotten? Perhaps if we recognized their portraits, we might remember their names.


With her work British painter Annie Kevans has taken on the task of portraying important woman artists throughout history and creating the opportunity for a revised, more inclusive, art history.


Kevans will exhibit recent portraiture in an upcoming display at San Francisco's Jenkins Johnson Gallery. An internationally respected painter, Kevans has memorialized many of history's most accomplished female artists with an extended series of oil-on-paper portraits.


Kevans paints elegantly constructed composite portraits from existing images, imagination, and in some cases, the artists’ self-portraits. Kevans brings to light and challenges society’s perception of individuals and groups we may or may not remember. Whether child stars, dictators, or the insane, Kevans subjects possess a tangible humanity and sensuality. She believes that a person’s identity is not preset but is a shifting temporary construction, and her work questions our verdicts on history and perceptions of intellectual solidity.


"Women and the History of Art" redresses the chauvinistic exclusion of women from the realm of fine art in the past, lending new visibility to the artists who have proved inspirational to Kevans, and allowing the possibility for their (re)discovery by other contemporary artists. Consistently formatted to feature the artists in a traditional, bust-length portrait, the repetitive nature of the images and their interplay suggests a new art historical canon.


Kevans imagines the portraits displayed in galleries and museums, re-introducing the presence of women into these historically male-dominated sites. For her series, Kevans reaches back as far as the 16th century, honoring Italian painter Lavinia Fontana, and works her way through 20th-century artists such as Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe, Eva Hesse, and Diane Arbus.


"Annie Kevans: Women and the History of Art" opens October 2, with a reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. A public talk will be held that evening with the artist and Emma Acker, Assistant Curator of American Art from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, beginning at 6:30. The exhibition continues through December 23.


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