THE HISTORY OF ART

 

Kevans’ work has always reflected an interest in the relation between power and identity and in every new series the British painter investigates inherited belief systems. This exhibition centres on women in art history who were once part of the art world and whose history and significance have been gradually eroded so they are ultimately forgotten to a modern audience.

 

Kevans has long examined the duality of truth and falsehood throughout her work, which she does by creating 'portraits' which may or may not be based on real documentation. For this exhibition Kevans will present over thirty new paintings that depict successful women artists, opening up a dialogue about their importance and significance. Kevans was astonished to learn throughout the course of her extensive research that, despite the massive obstacles in their path, many women managed to have successful careers as artists as early as the 16th century. Although many have been championed in the last decades having been ‘rediscovered’ by later art historians, these women still remain ‘separate’ from mainstream art history. Their work is consistently sidelined in major exhibitions and women artists are deemed only worthy as subjects within the secondary realm of feminist art history.

 

Kevans has selected to paint artists who were as successful and in some cases, more so, than their male counterparts. Kevans shines a light on artists such as Sofonisba Anguissola (1532/5-1625) who was the first Italian woman to become an international celebrity as an artist in her own time. Other artists are known for their personal lives but their works remain invisible. Despite being the first woman painter admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux¬Arts, Suzanne Valadon is more famous for her personal relationships with Renoir, Erik Satie and Degas. Likewise, Victorine Meurent is more famous for being the subject of Manet’s paintings than she is for being an artist. Her paintings were selected for the famous Salon numerous times including in 1876, a year in which Manet failed to get any of his work accepted. Like many of her female contemporaries, her name means nothing to the general public or to many female artists working today.

 

(Text taken from the Fine Art Society's press release, May 2014)

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Angelica Kauffman